Department says long call waiting times resulted from staff moving to work on coronavirus support schemes
Satisfaction with HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) digital services increased during the summer while telephone queries fell sharply, according to performance data published by the department.
From July to September HMRC recorded user satisfaction with digital services of 86.6%, up from 82.3% for the same three months of 2019. This followed it setting up new online methods to support schemes introduced by the government to support individuals and businesses financially during the coronavirus pandemic. It also introduced digital prompts which aim to get taxpayers and businesses to provide the correct information while data is being entered.
HMRC was slightly slower in dealing with online queries that required human input. It dealt with 90.1% of online forms within seven days during the quarter, down from 92.7% during the same period of 2019.
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It was also slower in answering phone calls, taking an average of 8 minutes 55 seconds to pick up compared with 6:25 in this quarter of 2019. This is despite it receiving a third fewer calls, with 7.3 million phone calls over the three month period compared with 11.2 million in July to September 2019.
“The department aims to maintain a consistently high level of customer service but it has been clear that since the start of the pandemic this wouldn’t always be possible,” HMRC said. “Delivering at pace the level of support required on
Covid-19 has inevitably meant resources that would normally be deployed on delivering tax services have been focused on these support schemes instead.”