Extra staff recruited to deal with HMRC calls

‘Tax staff are being taken on to work in the evening and more online services introduced in a bid to improve performance at HMRC. The authority’s chief executive, Lin Homer, apologised again to a committee of MPs for HMRC’s call-handling figures after it emerged only half of calls were answered successfully between April and June. Ms Homer, appearing in front of the Treasury Select Committee, said HMRC struggled to cope during those months but managers had since introduced a series of changes. This, she said, had led to an improvement between July and September when 76% of enquiries by phone were dealt with either by a member of staff or an appropriate recorded message. Ms Homer also urged taxpayers to contact the Revenue online rather than by phone to avoid huge waits. Mark Garnier, one of the MPs on the committee, said call-handling rates at HMRC were a “staggeringly bad outcome by anyone’s measure” and that “if it was a commercial service, you’d go bust”.

Source: Financial Times, Page: 3 The Guardian, Page; 31 The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 57 Daily Mail, Page: 20 The Sun, Page: 2 BBC News

Of course, when Ms Homer suggests contacting HMRC online, she doesn’t mean sending them an email. Firstly, few HMRC email addresses are published; second, HMRC’s record in responding by email is no better than by letter. No – she means “find out the answer yourself from looking on our website”. This is the sort of response that drives us to despair. When you’ve been waiting on the phone listening to tinny music for 20 minutes there is only one thing that is more annoying than being told that your call is important to us and that you are moving up the queue. That’s being offered the helpful suggestion to check out the information available on the website.

Does Ms Homer imagine that people phone HMRC for fun? Or because they are lonely? Or because they have an urge to spend an hour of their life they won’t get back being left on hold? It’s blindingly obvious that if the torture of phoning HMRC could be avoided by a few clicks of the mouse people would do it. Contacting HMRC in person is a last resort when the answer is not available anywhere else. For goodness’ sake Lin, get a grip woman.

On this very subject, there was a letter in The Times last week from Paul Thomas of Oxford listing all the jobs he got done while kept on hold by HMRC, before admitting defeat after over an hour. ‘I clearly need to ring HMRC again,’ he wrote, ‘but fear it might drive me insane.’ The on-hold ‘muzak’ is alleged to have been Boney M. Which song, we wonder? Brown Girl in the Ring (“Come on, show me your motion”)? Rivers of Babylon (“Ye-eah we wept”)? Rasputin (“It was a shame how he carried on”)? Or, for the utmost irony, Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Holi-Holiday (“What a world of fun for everyone”)?



Sam Inkersole

In 2022, Sam won the Taxation’s Rising Star award at the Taxation Awards in and was named in the Accountancy Age 35 Under 35.

Jon Wedge

While Jon’s client work focuses on the financial services sector, he also oversees the firm’s assurance service, as well as supporting the trainees following in his footsteps.


Elana joined us in 2017 as an ACA trainee, after graduating from Durham University where she had studied languages. She is now a manager in our assurance team.


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