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HMRC to maintain call centres for now

HMRC is, for now, ignoring a central government mandate to close traditional communications channels as online facilities become increasingly available. In defence of this position HMRC believes it is wrong to act too quickly, since there remain many customers who do not have broadband access or are of an age where telephone contact is all they have to rely on. Contact centres will, therefore, remain open in the foreseeable future and to this end a further 1,000 new staff are being employed to help improve services.

However, some ask if this is enough. For example, those on low incomes relying upon pay-as-you-go mobile phones, can find it a very expensive business waiting for a call centre to respond. This is equally true for the contractor who has more productive things to do than wait on a telephone, although a cheap accountancy for contractors could resolve that issue for the business.

HMRC has been requested repeatedly by several professional organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Taxation, to improve planning when communicating with taxpayers. Some care in this regard could help stagger calls and relieve pressure on the call centres to help provide improved response times.

HMRC has said it is committed to becoming more responsive and to significantly improve call answering times. To this end, an additional £34m has been made available to cover the costs of the additional staff even though the message from government has been to provide digital services by default.

Posted by Mark
September 8, 2012
Small Business

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