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Concerns over HMRC staffing cuts

It’s getting harder and harder for freelancers to obtain advice from an HMRC tax enquiry centre and the problem could be set to get even worse.

The Revenue has changed the opening hours at 58 of its UK centres around the UK and some now just open for a couple of days a week. A current consultation could lead to a cut in hours for a further 117 out of the 280 centres.

Robin Williamson, the technical director of LITRG, pointed out that for several years now HMRC has been gradually reducing the availability of face to face services. There are now fewer enquiries centres and those that are left open serve visitors, including contractors, for fewer hours.

HMRC defends their position by saying that more and more customers make use of the telephone and online help services for enquiries relating to issues such as income tax and PAYE. This has led to the review of opening hours at the quieter centres. 40% fewer visitors now go to enquiry centres compared to 2006/07.

A pilot scheme in 2008 cut the opening hours in 10 centres and HMRC claim this had no adverse impact on its customers.

LITRG says that the drop in visitor numbers is due to recent restructuring of the enquiry centres which has led to advice being harder to obtain. There have been frequent complaints about the poor standard of service and people are now turning to the voluntary sector in their quest for information. And any further cutbacks will no doubt pile yet more pressure on the voluntary sector.

HMRC says that by cutting the centre's opening hours they can achieve a better work balance thus freeing up staff to devote more time to other priority tasks such as dealing with tax returns and general customer correspondence.

Revenue staff however are already showing signs of discontent about the reductions. Last month they held a protest outside the Treasury to complain about the cuts in tax enquiry office opening times.

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The Revenue has changed the opening hours at 58 of its UK centres around the UK and some now just open for a couple of days a week. A current consultation could lead to a cut in hours for a further 117 out of the 280 centres.


Robin Williamson, the technical director of LITRG, pointed out that for several years now HMRC has been gradually reducing the availability of face to face services. There are now fewer enquiries centres and those that are left open for fewer hours.


HMRC defends their position by saying that more and more customers make use of the telephone and online help services and this has led to the review of opening hours at the quieter centres. 40% fewer visitors now go to enquiry centres compared to 2006/07.


A pilot scheme in 2008 cut the opening hours in 10 centres and HMRC claim this had no adverse impact on its customers.


LITRG says that the drop in visitor numbers is due to recent restructuring of the enquiry centres which has led to advice being harder to obtain. There have been frequent complaints about the poor standard of service and people are now turning to the voluntary sector in their quest for information. And any further cutbacks will no doubt pile yet more pressure on the voluntary sector.


HMRC says that by cutting the centre's opening hours they can achieve a better work balance thus freeing up staff to devote more time to other priority tasks such as dealing with tax returns and general customer correspondence.


Revenue staff however are already showing signs of discontent about the reductions. Last month they held a protest outside the Treasury to complain about the cuts in tax enquiry office opening times.