16:00 18 December 2012
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has cost the Government £136million by failing to answer calls. The National Audit Office (NAO) has found during its inquiry that around 20million phone calls made to HMRC were not answered.
Due to the delay in answering calls, the cost of charges mounted to £33million between 2011 and 2012. Meanwhile, taxpayers face a bill of £103million, which relates to calls being kept on hold according to NAO’s investigation.
It was found that during the first six months of 2012, approximately 6.5million callers were put on hold when ringing HMRC for at least 10 minutes at a time.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee Chair Margaret Hodge said: “When people have no choice but to contact the Revenue to discuss their tax affairs, I find it totally unacceptable that HMRC uses costly 0845 numbers and charges people for the privilege of waiting for the department to pick up.”
One of the concerns held by many, is that taxpayers were ringing up to speak to an advisor regarding their monetary issues and were not being answered or were being put on hold. But some people have also commented on the cost of ringing HMRC’s hotline.
Some HMRC contact phone numbers start with an 0845 number, and persons using a mobile phone may incur costs that can reach up to 41pence per minute. Landline calls cost much less, with calls to the prefix numbers costing between 1pence and 10pence per minute.
A spokesperson for HMRC has reportedly said that they hope to improve in light of the NAO’s findings, but also that there has been improvements made already with regards to their service.
It is understood that almost 50per cent of calls were answered between 2010 and 2011, whereas for 2011 to 2012 this had increased to 74per cent. Also, by the end of this year, HMRC has said they were answering 9/10 phone calls.
“We are well aware that in the past we have not delivered the standard of service to which we are committed,” a HMRC spokesperson said.
“We are determined to build on this progress.”
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