HMRC plans to offer online claims for Child Benefit by end of 2023

Department aims to build on digitisation work enabling citizens to view details of existing claims

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HM Revenue and Customs has revealed plans to launch by the end of this year an online service through which parents will be able to claim Child Benefit.

Although the form for claiming the benefit can currently be downloaded online and completed digitally, to file their claim, citizens are still required to print this off and post it to HMRC.

The initial stages of a digitisation process being undertaken by the department have already created tools allowing existing claimants to view and update child benefit details online or via the HMRC app. And, in a newly published update on its customer-service performance, the tax agency revealed that it intends to extend digital functionality further this year to cover new claims for the benefit.

“In December 2022, we gave Child benefit claimants the ability to view their claim details and proof of entitlement for Child Benefit online,” the department said. “In 2023, we plan to follow that with the introduction of a new digital claim service.”

This will form part of wider efforts to improve its suite of digital citizen services, the HMRC update added.

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“During 2023 we will be bringing together digital services under a consistent brand and provide an improved digital experience through a new account designed around taxpayer tasks and needs,” it said. “We will add new digital features and services regularly to improve the customer experience, such as moving Child Benefit online, making it easier for customers to change their personal details and request their National Insurance number online.”

The department claimed that its app had been accessed almost 40 million times during the nine-month period up to the end of December.

On 1 October, HMRC also began processing digital import declarations using the new Customs Declaration Service. The platform had been used to make 23 million declarations by mid-January – with 98% of new import filings being completed via CDS, according to HMRC.

“We’re continuing work to migrate any remaining importers to CDS, while also focusing on making sure the UK’s exporters make the move to the new system by 30 November 2023,” the department said.

The tax agency acknowledged, during the first nine months of the 2022-23 fiscal year, “we haven’t met our customer service standards for dealing with phone calls and correspondence – although we have largely maintained or improved service levels compared with 2021-2022”. 

HMRC reiterated its encouragement for citizens to use online services where possible and claimed that, in September alone, 1.5 million called the department “for matters they could have handled online”.

“This is why we’re focused on helping more customers access our existing digital services and improving the range of digital services available,” it said. “We’re also reducing the need for customers to contact us by simplifying customer journeys, improving guidance and removing the causes of unnecessary contact.”

The update added that expanding its online offering will allow staff to “focus on supporting customers who are unable to use digital services or who need extra support”.

Sam Trendall

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