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HMRC commits £45m to improve inadequate customer service

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28th Jun 2015
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HM Revenue & Customs is setting aside £45 million to tackle inadequate customer service after as many as one in three calls made to it over recent months went unanswered.

The money, which will come from the current spending settlement rather than in the form of additional money from the Treasury, will pay for around 3,000 extra staff to join the organisation’s existing 15-000-strong customer service team in order to tackle lengthy phone queues and busy dial tones.

A further 2,000 employees will also be moved temporarily from other parts of the business to help deal with the tax credits renewal deadline at the end of July.

Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “Despite our best efforts, our call performance hasn’t been up-to-scratch and we apologise to all those customers who have struggled to get through to us.”

The statistics show that 72.5% of calls, the equivalent of 46.9 million, were answered out of a total of about 60 million last year, well short of the organisation’s target of 80%. This meant that more than one in 10 people, or 7.2 million callers, got a busy tone, rising to one in five in September 2014 and a third in January and March this year.

The figures are a setback for HMRC following a steady improvement in its call answering record from a low of 48% in 2010/11, hitting a peak of 79% in 2013/4.

But Homer said the organisation had also invested in new telephone equipment that enabled it to divert calls from contact centres to other offices if required so that other staff could help customers at the busiest times. She likewise encouraged people to go online to find the answers to queries if they could. 

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