3 May 2012
Taxpayers ‘waiting longer’ to speak to HMRC advisers
Taxpayers are being forced to wait longer to speak to an HMRC adviser, with one in four calls to the tax authority’s helpline going unanswered.
According to figures obtained by the Shadow Treasury minister Owen Smith, it takes on average just over four minutes to speak to an adviser on the phone.
This is almost three times longer than the average waiting time of one minute and 31 seconds that was recorded in 2010.
One in four callers apparently hangs up before being connected to an adviser.
‘With average call waiting times almost trebling in the last two years, this is yet more evidence of chaos and incompetence in government,’ said Mr Smith.
He added: ‘Families with children are facing massive cuts to tax credits and are set to lose an average of £511 a year as a result of the unfair policies of this out of touch Tory-led Government. So it's outrageous that they are waiting longer and often struggling to get through for much needed information and advice.’
However, a spokeswoman for HMRC pointed out that the department handles around 60 million calls a year.
‘During busy periods, there will be times when customers find it more difficult to get through,’ she said. ‘We are working hard to improve contact centre service levels and have made good progress. We are managing busy periods better by deploying extra people to deal with short-term increases in demand.’
HMRC’s lines are open between 8am and 8pm on Mondays to Fridays, and from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays. The volume of calls is usually at its highest between the hours of 11am and 3pm.
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