Adjudicator Dame Barbara Mills said she was ‘delighted to report’ that both government departments had reduced ‘waiting time and the time taken to investigate compliaints’.
The average time taken to settle complaints was less than four months, easily beating a settlement target of four-and-a-half months.
673 cases were settled in the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001, just 27 short of a target of 700. Complainants were also happier, with 72% reporting satisfaction with the manner in which their problems were dealt with, although this fell below a target of 80%.
‘I see this as a commendable effort,’ Dame Barbara said.
In terms of the total number of complaints received, 18% fewer were forwarded to the Adjudicator’s Office compared with a year ago and the number of cases running for a year or longer fell. Dame Barbara said the target for next year was to eliminate all long running cases.
In response to the report, Inland Revenue chairman Nick Montagu said the Revenue was totally committed to providing the best possible service to customers.
He admitted: ‘Inevitably we sometimes fall short; where we do, we aim to deal with a complaint quickly and fairly ourselves’.
On a less positive note, the number of cases either wholly or partly upheld against the Revenue rose by 4% to 36% with the report being unable to find an underlying reason for this increase.
The figure at Customs & Excise were slightly better with just under a third of cases being upheld, while the Revenue’s Valuation Office Agency, which values and maintains council rates, managing to keep a clean sheet with no complaints upheld against it.
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