HMRC cuts call waiting time to five minutes

The number of taxpayers calling HMRC to ask for advice and deal with problems has fallen with less use of phone services in October as more people go online to use digital services as the number of digital accounts exceeds 21m

HMRC received 3.17m phone calls in October, down from 3.65m the previous month, and managed to improve the average speed of answering a call.

The average speed of answering a call was five minutes, an improvement on the average response time for the first nine months of 2019, where on average it was taking seven minutes and 18 seconds to answer calls. The department target time for call answering is five minutes. 

Despite a 13% fall in calls this month and the pressure to move taxpayers online, the number of calls year on year was up.

However, the five-minutes is the waiting time for the call to be answered and put through the automated answering system, not the length of time a person waits to be dealt with by a tax official.

This is only the first contact with the HMRC call centre. Nearly one in five people (17.6%) had to wait more than 10 minutes to speak to an adviser at the tax office, breaking the HMRC target of only 15% of callers.

Personal tax accounts

In October, 400,000 taxpayers signed up for an individual personal tax account (PTAs), up a third on the previous month, bringing the total number of PTAs to 21.3m, since they were launched in December 2015.

There was some improvement in taxpayer satisfaction with HMRC’s digital services, up 3% in the last six months, with 82.1% satisfied or very satisfied, according to the October 2019 HMRC performance report.

However, 17.9% of taxpayers were still not satisfied with the digital services, reflecting research issued over the summer that showed significant levels of confusion about the information online and criticism that it was too technical and inaccessible for lay users.

The number of complaints received was 4,915, down from 5,703 in September. The percentage of Tier 1 complaints fully upheld, where HMRC agreed with the main part of a taxpayer’s complaint was down slightly at 37.1%, versus 37.9% the previous month. 

The latest HMRC monthly performance update October 2019

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