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MPs criticise the taxman for poor customer service

Member: Nifa

Within days of admitting under-ordering paper for tax statements, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has once again been forced to apologise, this time for poor customer service.

The criticism came from the Treasury Select Committee of MPs, who concluded that dissatisfaction with the taxman was at such a level that there was a risk of public confidence in the system being undermined.

The Committee, in its report to Parliament, singled out major inefficiency in answering the phone at peak times and what they described as ‘endemic delays’ in replying to letters.

MPs blamed bad management, demoralised staff, excessive job cuts and increasingly complex tax laws for the poor level of service it found.

While saying that HMRC did a good job collecting taxes, MPs expressed concern that the quality of service to taxpayers could become even worse by too much reliance on the internet for filing tax returns, overambitious computer projects such as real time data for employee PAYE and the legacy of millions of unresolved tax problems.

Replying, HMRC chairman Mike Clasper told BBC Radio Five Live: " It simply wasn’t good enough on post and telephone and I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise to the people who had to take a long time to get through, or we didn’t get back to them quick enough with the post."

He added that one thousand extra contact centre advisors had now been recruited to handle calls during exceptionally busy periods.


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