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HMRC fail to answer freelancers' calls

freelancesupermarket.com newsroom

RSS 15 January 2010
The taxman is in the limelight yet again with a report from the National Audit Office (NA) showing that a massive 44 million telephone calls to HMRC were unanswered in the year 2008-09.

Understandably, the NAO said that the performance of 31 call centres was unacceptable. Even though HMRC has 10,500 full-time staff, at a cost of £233m, 43% of calls went unanswered.

The report disclosed that a total of 103 million calls were made to HMRC's call centre handling telephone enquiries. The response rate fell to 57% from 71% in 2007-08. It did however point out that the number of calls rose by 22% and the rate could be anywhere within the range of four million to 17 million calls per month.

Even more worryingly, during busy times of the year only one in three calls got answered, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

And callers who were lucky enough to get through had to wait an average two minutes for a reply. This rose to nearly four minutes if the call was made at peak times. And yet if you break these figures down, each member of staff would need to answer less than 40 calls per day to ensure ALL calls were answered.

The call centre recognised that the performance level was unacceptable and has put in place measures for improvement.

According to the National Audit Office there are signs that these measures are working. In the first half of the 2009-10 year the number of callers decreased by 12% and the number of call attempts by just over a third. The directorate now answers 73% of calls as opposed to just under 50% in the first half 2008-09.

In conclusion the NAO admitted that the Department recognises that it is not achieving value for money when dealing with telephone enquiries.

It said the correct changes could raise the answer rate to 90% and save HMRC up to £50m.

An HMRC spokesman acknowledged that, while the revenue had significantly improved performance there was still more to be done.

He added that the revenue was committed to answering 9 out of 10 calls, which is the industry standard, at 30% less cost by March 2012."

One wonders how they are going to achieve this in light of the news that they plan to cut 25,000 jobs by 2011!

© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Image: Hold All My Calls by Furryscaly

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