HMRC ‘ignoring self-employed callers’
Posted 31st May 2018 in For Workers
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has been heavily criticised for failing large numbers of self-employed people and other callers trying to get through to its tax helpline by failing to answer the phones.
According to new figures released this week, more than four million calls are going unanswered – and the issue is twice as bad as HMRC previously admitted.
More than one in ten callers reported failing to get through to anyone when they attempted to speak to staff at HMRC, up from around one in 20 a year ago. Some 14 per cent of calls took more than ten minutes to answer and left callers hanging on hold.
In September, one in five calls took more than ten minutes to answer as people struggled to connect and have their questions answered concerning paper tax returns.
Furthermore, the audit does not include the callers who got an engaged tone and so were forced to hang up – and who may not have attempted to call again.
House of Commons Public Accounts Committee representative Meg Hillier called HMRC’s service disappointing and warned that it is failing millions of self-employed people in particular.
“There are a lot of people who are self-employed, who do not have a raft of tax advisers and who rely on HMRC for help. It is absolutely vital HMRC provides a good service. It is collecting tax on hard-earned money, and it needs to make it easier for people to play by the rules,” she told the Daily Telegraph.
A spokesperson for HMRC insisted it has been improving customer service standards and that average call response times are falling.
However, the service has been accused of cutting staff as it attempts to encourage taxpayers to carry out required tasks online.
Past research carried out by PfP found that the best time to call HMRC was between 08:30 and 09:30 or between noon and 12:30, when average wait times were 4.5 minutes.
The worst time to call was from 16:30 to 17:00, when wait times rose to 12 minutes prior to connection.