The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found in a recent study that the wait time for people on the phone to the HMRC are, on average, waiting for 35 minutes to talk to an advisor. On average it also took 47 minutes to talk to an advisor for Self-Assesment.
The PAC have since linked this time with spending cuts made by HMRC and the loss of jobs at their head offices. It’s believed that HMRC overestimated their workforce and cost themselves more money by firing employees. By underestimating how many people would call the tax office, HMRC has wasted £97m of caller money, according to a study made by the National Audits Office (NAO). NAO also found that callers were, on average, waiting an hour to talk to a customer service advisor.
HMRC cut spending by £257 between 2010 and 2015, as well as cutting the staff head count by 10800 people. The PAC believes that this is because they had seriously underestimated their need for workers at the crucial time of change in their departments. When it was discovered that HMRC would need to rehire workers in order to maintain the number of people calling in needing help and advise, they hired back o0ver 2400 people by the end of 2015. The change is thought to have cost the HMRC millions, as a reported 3 million people paid the wrong tax under the wrong advisement by HRMC staff.
The PAC has recommended the HMRC to investigate their customer service roles and whether they live up to the standard that they claim they are. They believe a mere 1% improvement to customer service within the department could increase their revenue by £43m a year. The PAC suggested that doing something such as changing or creating a new number may help substantially, as they can have twice the amount of callers on the phone to advisors at the same time.
HMRC have released a statement regarding the PAC and NAO surveys, saying that they are doing their best to turn over the tax office and have a greater working environment by 2020. They have already implemented an online pensions protection scheme, which is aimed at helping the elderly put money into their pension pot without the fear of fraud. Any pensioner worried about their investments can log in to their account here to see what services on offer by the HMRC that may help them. The HMRC are also in the process of overhauling the way they investigate the wealthy in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak.