Home Business News Half of calls missed and 800 years on hold: HMRC performance in 2022/23 ‘not good enough’

Half of calls missed and 800 years on hold: HMRC performance in 2022/23 ‘not good enough’

15th May 24 11:09 am

The National Audit Office (NAO) has today published a report on HMRC’s “poor” customer service in 2022/23, with average call wait times increasing to 23 minutes, up from 5 minutes in 2018/19.

Its report finds that, despite £881m spent on customer service in 2022/23, HMRC has delivered “below expected levels” of service for telephone and correspondence enquiries – continuing a trend which the NAO says has lasted for “almost all of the last five years.”

The NAO highlighted several failures at the tax office, in 2022/23, HMRC advisers answered 20.5m calls, out of 38m attempted calls; a success rate of 53.9%.

Taxpayers spent the equivalent of “798 years on hold” when contacting HMRC in 2022/23.

Despite heavy investment in new digital self-service options for taxpayers, these tools have “not reduced service pressures as much as HMRC expected”, and “it is not clear how far and fast” these services will reduce future demand for telephone and correspondence services.

HMRC “did not consider stakeholder views or adequately asses the impacts” of closing its Self Assessment helpline before announcing its closure.

HMRC is not expected to meet its telephone performance target in 2024/25, and as yet “has not made clear what level of service customers should expect” this year.

Head of the National Audit Office, Gareth Davies, said that HMRC has “been below its target service levels for too long”, with customers “caught in a declining spiral of service pressures as cuts” compounded by HMRC’s plans to cut its employee headcount.

Seb Maley, CEO of IR35 tax and compliance firm, Qdos, said, “This report makes for damning reading, and it exposes just how bad things have gotten over the last five years. Despite astronomical investment in its customer service offering, HMRC has fallen well short. All taxpayers – whether self-employed or employed – are getting a raw deal.

“The NAO is right to call out HMRC’s customer service levels, which have nosedived in recent years. The concern is that while the help and support HMRC offers taxpayers worsens, the tax office’s approach to policing non-compliance becomes more aggressive. It doesn’t stack up.”

An HMRC spokesperson said: “While customer service standards on our phone lines are still not where we want them to be, we’re making strong progress in our efforts to improve our customer service and additional funding has been confirmed by the Government this week.

“Millions more people used our highly-rated online services last year – saving them waiting on the phone and freeing up our advisers to deal with those people who need extra support.

“We continue to encourage people to deal with us online or via the app where they can and we are working to provide even better, easier and always-available online services. But, as we have recognised, these changes need to happen at a speed and in ways that our customers are comfortable with.”

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This scathing report from the NAO will come as no surprise to taxpayers who have tried and tried again to contact HMRC.”

Shadow Treasury minister James Murray said: “As businesses and taxpayers across the country already know, service levels at HMRC – like so many other public services – have been collapsing under the Conservatives.

“It is staggering that taxpayers spent nearly 800 years in total waiting on hold for HMRC. That is double the amount of time at the last election, and shows the Conservatives have no idea how to deliver the service that people deserve.”

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