HMRC staff are so overworked and under pressure to meet government targets
that taxpayers letters are routinely binned and calls are either ignored or
cut-off prematurely, a report claims.
On ITV’s Tonight programme this evening, one whistleblower lifts the lid on
some of the practices used by stressed staff to cope with workloads, which has
resulted in people receiving demands for money they do not owe.
‘Staff have actually been told that when someone rings in with a tax inquiry
and you spot a mistake on a person’s record, you have to ignore it unless they
have actually asked you to look at that mistake,’ the insider on the programme
said. ‘It’s all about the government target of answering so many calls in a day.
‘And if you write in, the post often goes missing. It just disappears, just
gets binned… some letters simply aren’t seen by anyone.
‘Last week we had a situation where half a million payment reminder letters
were sent out late, meaning people were being threatened with surcharges and
penalties they might not even owe. It’s a massive mess.’
Staffing levels at HMRC had been cut by 17,000 since 2005 and Tonight claims
that complaints to the independent Adjudicator’s Office have doubled in that
HMRC said that it constantly monitored its performance and where it falls
below standard ‘we move resources to improve’.
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