HMRC are failing to answer approximately a quarter of the 50 million calls it receives every year, even though they own one of the largest virtual call centres in the world, MPs were told.
Between April and June, the HMRC answered just over half of calls (54-55%) from the public according to the chief executive of HMRC, Lin Homer.
She continued to say that the HMRC has created one of the largest virtual call centres in the world, enabling 20,000 staff to take calls at one time. As a result of this, 76% of calls were being answered first time. She did, however, say: “We were not serving to the level we would like to… and we are very apologetic.” Since the release of these figures, the HMRC have said they will now recruit a further 3,000 staff.
Despite this, MPs say that the level of customer service has been unacceptable. Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, Mark Garnier, said: “If you were a commercial service you would go bust. You only continue to exist because people have to call you.”
Homer’s appearance followed a report by the public accounts committee. This report found it continued to let corporate tax avoiders off easily as well as failing to answer the general public’s calls.
According to Homer, a majority of the calls were simple queries, such as asking for tax codes, that could be handled online. She also added that most were able to speak with someone after two calls.