Extra 1,000 contact staff lined up at HMRC

AN ADDITIONAL 1,000 STAFF are to be taken on at the taxman’s contact centres as it aims to meet its target of answering 90% of calls, it has been confirmed.

Some £9m has been earmarked for investment in call centres this year, with a further £25m in 2013/14 in order to meet the call centre industry standard. Successful implementation would see the target met two years earlier than originally promised to the Treasury Select Committee, according to HM Revenue & Customs.

Just 48% of call attempts were handled in 2010/11, but improvements took the success rate to 74% in 2011/2012.

In June this year, it was revealed by the Treasury that a quarter of tax helpline calls go unanswered, with many hanging up after waiting for an average of five minutes and 45 seconds. However, HMRC’s chief executive Lin Homer is hopeful the extra staff and funding will see services hit industry standards.

She said: “Our contact centres receive about 60 million phone calls a year and how well we operate this service is of huge importance to our customers.

“It is vital that when customers call us for help their call is answered – and in a reasonable time. The feedback we get is that the quality of the advice we give when people get through is good, but we haven’t been answering enough calls.”

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