Seventeen Inland Revenue offices will today collect Charter Marks, four for the second time. Another nine have been Highly Commended. The offices are spread throughout the UK and cover all aspects of the department’s business. Today’s awards bring the Inland Revenue’s total to 38.
Today’s winners are:
Accounts Office Cumbernauld
Birmingham Victoria Tax Office
Dunfermline Tax Office
Employers Helpline (NICO), Glasgow
Enforcement Office, Scotland
Integrated Compliance Unit, FICO
Macclesfield Tax Office
Maidstone 1 Taxpayer Tax Office
Manchester Irwell Tax Office
Merry Hill 1 Tax Office
National Employers Helpline
Norwich 1 Tax Office
St Helens Tax Office
Self Assessment Helpline (incorporating the
Valuation Office Agency – Manchester Group
Valuation Office Agency – South Wales Group
Valuation Office Agency – South West Group
Dawn Primarolo, Paymaster General said
“Inland Revenue staff consistently deliver excellent service to their customers, and today’s announcements show that they are committed to continuing and building on their success.”
Nick Montagu, Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue added
“Today’s announcements are excellent news, and a spur to further efforts, to get recognition for the tremendous commitment which our people put into delivering a first rate public service. I see it wherever I go: I am delighted that the Charter Mark assessors see it too. We now have an impressive 38 winners – I congratulate them all, and am particularly pleased to see four Valuation Office Agency offices among them.”
1. Accounts Office Cumbernauld – Second Time Winners. Charter Mark first awarded in 1996. Around 7 million self employed taxpayers, businesses and companies located throughout the UK are dealt with by the 1026 staff at this office. In the year to 31 March 1999 the office banked and accounted for #87 thousand million, repaid #98 million to people who had overpaid tax, dealt with 916,000 items of correspondence and handled 1.3 million telephone calls.
2. Birmingham Victoria Tax Office – The 200 staff working at this office deal with 294,000 individuals including 64,000 self assessment taxpayers and 65,000 pensioners. They also deal with over 9,600 local employers. Improving customer service has been the main driver of the office’s application, and by conducting regular surveys they have been able to address the needs of their customers.
3. Dunfermline Tax Office – This is only a small office by current standards and the 33 staff employed here are responsible for the tax affairs of about 100 companies and 9,000 local self employed people. Each year the office deals with approximately 7,000 personal callers and 25,000 telephone calls. They have developed a plain English Customer Newsletter that is available at their enquiry centre. It is published quarterly and aims to keep their customers up to date with the tax issues that effect them.
4. Employers’ Helpline (NICO) – Second Time Winners – First award 1996. Based in Glasgow this Helpline was formerly the Social Security Advice Line for Employers. Following the merger of the Contributions Agency with the Inland Revenue in April 1999, it has remained an autonomous unit within the National Insurance Contributions Office (NICO), an executive office of the Inland Revenue. Dealing with 430,000 telephone calls a year the 55 staff are trained to deal with queries on all aspects of National Insurance Contributions that concern employers.
5. Enforcement Office, Scotland – The 40 staff who work in the office are responsible for the affairs of 3000 taxpayers throughout Scotland who are unable or unwilling to settle their tax liabilities. The amount collected by them amounts to approx. #27m per year. As the office’s customers are spread out over such a large area they have developed a strategy which involves increased us of the telephone when dealing with those in arrears.
6. Integrated Compliance Unit (FICO) – This unit is part of the Audit and Compliance section of the Financial and Intermediaries Compliance Unit based at Bootle. The 79 staff are responsible for monitoring the use of the Inland Revenue’s Gross Registration Scheme for Banks and Building Society Interest, Tax Exempt Special Savings Accounts (TESSAs), Personal Equity Plans (PEPs) and Personal Pensions.
7. Macclesfield Tax Office – The 84 staff who work in the office have responsibility for assessing and collecting the tax and national insurance for 46,000 individuals, 2000 companies and 3300 employers. Each year they provide places for children from local schools and colleges on work experience providing an insight into taxation and what it will mean to them.
8. Maidstone 1 Tax Office – Second Time Winners – First award 1996. The office deals with a large part of central Kent including the tax affairs of 9,200 employers and 180,000 individuals, including 53,000 self assessment taxpayers. Each year the 157 staff deal with 19,000 personal callers and 153,000 telephone calls. The office has responded to increasing customer needs by the introduction of a telephone unit, extending opening hours, mobile enquiry centres visiting more remote areas and home visits for those unable to get to the tax office.
9. Manchester Irwell Tax Office – 275 people work in this office which deals with the tax affairs of 500,000 individuals and 10,000 employers based mainly within the square mile of London and the West End. In the last twelve months they have won first prize in the Inland Revenue’s internal regional customer service competition and been awarded a “Highly Commended” in the daily Telegraph/Energis Customer Service competition in the Public Sector Category.
10. Merry Hill 1 Tax Office -Second Time Winners. This office deals with 24,000 personal callers and 322,000 telephone calls a year. The 225 staff have responsibility for the tax affairs of 16,5000 employers and 79,000 individuals, including 79,000 self assessment taxpayers. The office covers a large geographical area stretching from the borders of Wolverhampton and Walsall in the north, to Tenbury Wells and Martley in the South.
11. National Employers Helpline – This Helpline is a dedicated telephone advisory service set up to improve the quality of service and ease the administrative burden for the 1.4 million registered employers in the UK. The staff of 35 deal with 482,000 calls per year. Independent research has shown that almost half of the calls received by the Helpline are from regular users.
12. Norwich 1 Tax Office – The 162 staff working ion this office deal with the tax affairs of about 149,000 employees of which 40,000 are self assessment taxpayers and 7000 employers. Each year the office receives about 300,000 letters from the public and deals with 60,000 telephone and 17,000 personal callers. The customer service staff in the office are always out and about in the community meeting regularly with local accountants and welcoming students to the office for work experience. Some members of staff have also learned sign language.
13. St Helens Tax Office – Each year this office deals with approx. 22,000 personal callers and 60,000 telephone calls. The 80 staff deal with the tax affairs of 82,000 individuals, including 15,000 self assessment taxpayers and 2,500 employers. The customer service staff are very active in the community and regularly hold seminars for members of the public. Recently they have carried out presentations on self assessment and the new Construction Industry Scheme.
14. Self Assessment Helpline (incorporating the Subcontractors Helpline) – Based in Manchester and Washington, Tyne & Wear. This is a dedicated telephone advisory service which provides assistance to callers on all aspects of self assessment, and now incorporates the Construction industry Scheme (CIS) Subcontractors Helpline. The 135 staff working on the Helpline deal with 1.2 million calls per year. The state of the art computer system used ensures that no caller is left waiting longer than necessary. When the telephone number is dialled the computer searches for the member of staff who has been waiting for a call the longest and directs it to them, regardless of whether they are in Manchester or Washington.
15. Valuation Office Agency – Manchester Group – Made up of offices in Manchester and Stockport, they were praised for their internal as well as the external communications they provide. In particular, the Group’s monthly newsletter and their information leaflet for use by both business customers and the general public were commended.
16. Valuation Office Agency – South Wales Group – This group is made up of offices in Cardiff, Carmarthen, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Swansea. They have consulted widely with customers and clients which has lead to a reduction in their response times and an extension of their opening hours to 4.30pm in most locations as opposed to the national standard of 4pm. They operate a Welsh language bi-lingual policy.
17. Valuation Office Agency – South West Group – Exeter, St Austell and Taunton make up this group and deal with 22 billing authorities between them. They are heavily committed to modernising government principles through their close working with local authorities and representative bodies. They were able to demonstrate their commitment to providing a quality service to match the needs of customers and clients.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Charter Mark is an integral part of the Modernising Government programme. It is the Government’s award scheme for excellent service to the customer – for public services that go that extra mile.
2. To win a Charter Mark, organisations must demonstrate that they meet ten tough criteria Set standards of service Be open and provide full information Consult and involve Encourage access and the promotion of choice Treat all fairly Put things right when they go wrong Use resources effectively Innovate and improve Work with other providers User satisfaction
3. Charter Marks are awarded for three years, after which organisations must apply to renew their award. To win another Charter Mark, organisations must show real improvements in service.
4. Any public service that provides direct services to the public, and manages its own staff and budget can apply for a Charter Mark. Winners receive a trophy and a certificate and can use charter mark logo on their stationery etc for three years.
5. In August last year the eligibility criteria for the scheme was extended to include voluntary organisations who receive more than 50% of their income from public funding and also commercial organisations which are sub- contractors to the public sector.
6. Charter Mark may be withdrawn by the judging panel if standards fall below the high quality expected of a Charter Mark holder.
7. There are 789 winners this year, an increase of 274 on last year. Of these winners 185 are second time winners and 63 are third time winners.
8. Today’s 17 awards bring the Inland Revenue’s total to 38.
9. The Charter Mark awards will be presented in a ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London on 1st February 2000, where winners will have the opportunity to meet members of the Government.