4 Customer service |
12. We last reported on HMRC's customer service performance
in March 2013. While we welcomed the commitment made by HMRC to
improve, we considered that its revised target of answering 80%
of customers' calls within 5 minutes was unambitious and inadequate,
being lower than industry standard response times in the private
13. HMRC acknowledged it was unacceptable that, two
years on, it had not yet met its target for answering phone calls.
HMRC expects its performance in 2014-15 to be worse than in 2013-14,
and that it will not meet its revised targets.
HMRC told us that it had recently introduced new technology to
better direct customers' calls and was using staff flexibly to
answer a greater proportion of calls received at peak times than
in previous years. HMRC also told us that these measures were
intended to make its service more consistent across the year and
that it hoped to meet its 80% target in 2015-16.
14. HMRC's customer charter commits it to provide
an even-handed service to its customers, but only 63% of individuals
and small businesses say that they trust HMRC to act fairly, compared
to 87% of large businesses who say HMRC treats them fairly.
HMRC told us that it would not agree that large businesses received
a better deal on their tax, but it did agree that they had more
access to HMRC. It explained that its approach was to know what
big businesses were doing and to try and leave small businesses
alone. However HMRC
admitted that it could be difficult for small and medium sized
businesses to contact HMRC to discuss their tax affairs and accepted
that the service it provides small businesses was not as good
as it could be.
15. HMRC told us that it wanted to improve and to
personalise the service it offers using technology.
Its aim is for individuals and small businesses to have access
to digital accounts that will increase the amount of online self-service
possible and reduce the need for contact with HMRC.
In this context, we note that the C&AG's report highlighted
the challenge HMRC faces in building its commercial and technical
capability within a short timeframe if it is to achieve the objectives
of its technology strategy.
40 Committee of Public Accounts, HMRC: Customer Service, Thirty-sixth Report of Session 2012-13, HC 869, 18 March 2013 Back
Q 208 Back
C&AG's Report, Increasing the effectiveness of tax collection, para 7.5
Qq 209-210 Back
Q 247; C&AG's Report, Annex: Increasing the effectiveness of tax collection: a stocktake of progress since 2010, Session 2014-15, HC 1029-II, 6 February 2015, para 2.19
Q 248 Back
Q 249 Back
Qq 248-249 Back
Q 212 Back
C&AG's Report, Increasing the effectiveness of tax collection, paras 10, 12 Back