TaxCorporate TaxInstitutes and PCS warn against HMRC contact centre closures

Institutes and PCS warn against HMRC contact centre closures

HMRC plans to shut down its 281 enquiry centres have been met with concern by institutes and the PCS

Institutes and PCS warn against HMRC contact centre closures

TAX INSTITUTES have raised concerns over HM Revenue & Customs’ plans to close 281 contact centres as part of cost-saving measures.

The process, to start with the closure of 13 centres in the north-east as part of a consultation on the move, will see HMRC introduce a “flexible” telephone service, while visits can be made to “a range of convenient locations” including taxpayers’ homes and businesses.

While the CIoT and ICAEW are supportive of a more efficient HMRC, both expressed disappointed that the deadline for responses to the consultation is to close to the commencement of the pilot closure, meaning there may not be enough time to incorporate feedback into a new model.

Additionally, the HMRC “must address the individual needs of the most vulnerable in society”, the CIoT said, with concerns over the availability of help and advice to the elderly, disabled, migrants with limited English, those with financial issues and the digitally deprived ongoing.

In a statement, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced a demonstration outside HMRC’s offices on Monday 3 June, when it will present the taxman with a petition containing “thousands of signatures”.

“As a result of the closures it is likely that you will only be able to talk to HMRC staff face-to-face in extreme circumstances,” it read. “The government’s plans to shut the network will disproportionately affect minorities and vulnerable groups.”

In all, some 1,300 jobs will be affected, although it is expected many of those will be redeployed within the department. Taxpayers, HMRC said, will save around £12m in time and travel costs, while it claims the service will be £13m cheaper to run than it is currently.

The number of visitors to the enquiry centres has halved from five million in 2005/06 to fewer than two-and-a-half million in 2011/12, the taxman said. As a result, it said, some centres are only open one day per week, while only 16% of visitors genuinely need face-to-face advice.

In addition, the cost for face-to-face appointments is expensive for taxpayers, with the average cost last year hitting £152, while one particular centre saw costs hit £500. In stark contrast, most calls cost around £3.

Related Articles

‘Google tax’ nets HMRC £281m

Corporate Tax ‘Google tax’ nets HMRC £281m

1m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
OTS report: Corporation tax should follow accounts

Corporate Tax OTS report: Corporation tax should follow accounts

3m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
HMRC tax evasion assistance requests double in five years

Corporate Tax HMRC tax evasion assistance requests double in five years

4m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Tax crackdown brings in £468m for HMRC

Corporate Tax Tax crackdown brings in £468m for HMRC

9m Accountancy Age editorial
Budget is a 'springboard' for tax policy reform, says new report

Corporate Tax Budget is a 'springboard' for tax policy reform, says new report

9m Stephanie Wix, Writer
Spring Budget 2017: Making Tax Digital

Business Regulation Spring Budget 2017: Making Tax Digital

8m Shereen Ali, Deputy Editor
Tax fraud loses HMRC £16bn

Corporate Tax Tax fraud loses HMRC £16bn

8m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
HMRC nets £2.6bn in corporate tax from big businesses

Corporate Tax HMRC nets £2.6bn in corporate tax from big businesses

9m Accountancy Age editorial