Tax office taking longer to take your phone call

The pressure which a contractor trade groups says HMRC is clearly under to merely pick up the phone must have intensified, as tax staff’s caller responsiveness has deteriorated.

In its annual accounts report, the Revenue admits that despite receiving fewer calls overall in 2017/18, its average speed to answer has somehow extended to four minutes and 28 seconds.

That represents an additional half-a-minute for taxpayers to stay on hold, as last year it took just three minutes and 54 seconds for a HMRC call-handler to pick up.

It is a blow for HMRC, as only in May the department used being within its five-minute call-answering target as a defence -- to it ignoring a total of 4.3million other phone enquiries.

But it not the only phone-service target HMRC is now nearly missing. The chunk of callers waiting a full 10 minutes to speak to a human is now 14.6%, versus a ‘maximum’ of 15%.

“Going forward, we’ll continue to strive to optimise our phone performance within the funding available,” HMRC adds in its report, hinting cash constraints aren’t helping its call-handlers’ performance.

HMRC also said: “Our new digital services are continuing to grow, but we’ve also invested in traditional channels, including a seven-day service and voice biometric technology on our phones.”

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