HMRC’s latest statistics for July to September 2023 show continued poor service performance. It took an average of 23 minutes for a call to be answered, with 70% of callers waiting for more than 10 minutes. Just 69% of calls are answered by HMRC.
The percentage of post answered within 15 working days remains at 74%. Feedback from ICAEW members suggests that the very long time that it takes for HMRC to deal with correspondence, forms and returns that are flagged for further action is problematic.
It is disappointing that the additional resource that was available during the summer, partly due to the closure of the self assessment helpline, does not appear to have allowed HMRC to improve its position. The percentage of post being handled within 40 working days has declined steadily, from 91% in April 2023 to 83% in July and August 2023.
The key performance indicators are as follows:
|Jul to Sep 2023||Apr to Jun 2023||Apr 2022 to Mar 2023||Target|
|Customer correspondence cleared within 15 working days||74%||74%||73%||80%|
|Customer correspondence cleared within 40 working days||not yet available||89%||89%||95%|
|Net easy score||+60||+58||+60||+70|
|Telephones: adviser attempts handled||69%||63%||71%||85%|
|Telephones: average speed of answer||23 minutes||22 minutes||16 minutes||None|
|Telephones: callers waiting for more than 10 minutes||70%||70%||63%||None|
HMRC has also published a narrative report. The report highlights:
- the impact of higher inflation on HMRC’s budget;
- growth in the number of taxpayers in the system; and
- an increase in the proportion of taxpayers with complex tax affairs who need more support (largely due to the freezing and reduction of bands and allowances).
“With rising demand and reduced resources, the only way we can meet those service levels for customers who really need to speak to us, is by further improving and expanding our digital and online services and continuing to take bold decisions to encourage even more people to use them.
“In order to deliver the service standards our customers expect with the resources we have, our aim is to:
- reduce the volume of contact through phone and post by at least 30% by financial year 2024 to 2025, compared with 2021 to 2022
- boost the number of customers self-serving online at GOV.UK or in the HMRC app, without needing to contact us”
HMRC’s message about its need to achieve channel shift to online services and the app has been delivered in more stark terms in other public pronouncements, including its recent evidence to the Treasury Select Committee. HMRC does acknowledge that most of the channel shift required relates to individuals rather than agents.
ICAEW’s Tax Faculty continues to press HMRC on the impact that its poor service is having on taxpayers and agents. A press release quoting ICAEW’s CEO, Michael Izza, was published in September. ICAEW’s CEO has met with senior HMRC staff at which he raised the concerns about service standards. The need for improvement in HMRC’s service standards was also reinforced in ICAEW’s representation on the Autumn Statement.
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