HMRC hires evening staff to combat poor call handling figures
11th November 2015 | News
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has hired additional tax staff to work in the evening in a bid to improve “completely unacceptable” call handling figures.
This, combined with more online services, is designed to improve overall performance at the UK’s tax authority.
One MP labelled HMRC’s record of answering calls “staggeringly bad”, while Conservative MP Mark Garnier said it was “completely unacceptable” that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of calls from taxpayers are still not being answered.
Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, further apologised to the Commons Treasury Committee after it was revealed only half of calls were answered successfully between April and June 2015.
Ms Homer admitted the tax authority struggled to handle the level of calls during the above period but confirmed managers had introduced a series of changes which had improved call handling figures between July and September to more than three-quarters (76 per cent).
However, MP Mark Garnier stated that if HMRC was a commercial service it would have gone bust even with 76 per cent of calls being handled successfully.
A new telephony system has since been introduced which allowed calls to be dropped into any HMRC call centre. The result of this is that as many as 20,000 staff could be deployed to answer a single call at any one time.
Ms Homer added that there was no concrete evidence that UK taxpayers “tossed their tax return over their shoulder” if they failed to get through to HMRC on the telephone. However, she did encourage taxpayers to use more of HMRC’s online services where possible in order to reduce the telephone backlog.
“They [the British taxpayers] understand that payment of taxes is part of a strong democracy and when we don’t deliver the service we should, they try again and that is our experience,” said Homer.
“We’ve got to offer different [online] alternatives.
“More and more people will use online services if we provide them. We’ve introduced tweeting, we do web chats. Giving people a range of services means it will no longer be a question of when do I make the call and how long do I have to wait.”