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HMRC performance remains unacceptable

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Published: 08 Nov 2022 Update History

HMRC’s performance data for July to September 2022 shows some improvements but service levels remain well below targets in most areas.
HMRC’s service levels have improved but are still below where they need to be, according to monthly and quarterly performance reports for July to September 2022, which have been published along with a commentary.

Average call waiting time fell to around 14 minutes from 15 minutes in the previous quarter. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the target was five minutes.

The percentage of people waiting more than 10 minutes was 59%, an improvement on the 63% in the previous quarter. The pre COVID-19 target was 15%.

The percentage of calls answered: performance has been fairly static during the quarter at about 77% against a target of 85%.

The percentage of correspondence turned around within 15 working days has improved to 76% from 64% in the previous quarter.

HMRC’s debt balance peaked at £72bn in 2020; £60bn of this balance has been cleared. However, an increase in newer debts has meant that the balance increased to £47bn at the end of September 2022. HMRC is forecasting that, given the current economic conditions, the debt balance will not reduce below its current level by the end of 2022/23.

HMRC attributes the continuing service problems to extremely high volumes of repayment claims (90% more than usual) and IT issues as it made vital upgrades to improve system security and resilience.

HMRC says: “We’re continuing to focus on delivering service improvements for our customers quarter on quarter.” However, HMRC does not make any predictions about expected performance for the remainder of the tax year. HMRC helpline opening hours continue to be significantly shorter than before the pandemic.

Reports from ICAEW members suggest continuing problems, including with the agent dedicated line (ADL) and the VAT registration helpline, which appears to be struggling due to the problems with the VAT registration service. Members also report very long delays in obtaining responses to certain types of correspondence.

Members are encouraged to report service issues that are not client specific on HMRC’s agent forum. When commenting on a helpline, it is helpful to give the precise time and date of the call and to specify the number called.

ICAEW’s Tax Faculty continues to engage with HMRC and other professional bodies on what could be done to improve the experience of taxpayers and agents.
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