HMRC: Taxpayers face longer waits of 23 minutes for helplines

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The head of the organisation, Gareth Davies, said that while many of the newer digital services on offer were working well, “they have not made enough of a difference to customers”.

“HMRC must allow more time for these services to bed in and understand the difference they make before adjusting staffing levels,” he added.

Tina McKenzie, policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that delays and troubles getting through on the phone compounded stress for entrepreneurs who have received letters saying there is a problem with their taxes.

Dame Harriett Baldwin, chairwoman of the Treasury Committee, said that the findings would come as “no surprise” for customers who had faced long waits.

She added that an extra £51m announced by the Treasury this week aimed at freeing up HMRC staff to answer more calls was “welcome”, but said “questions remain regarding how they plan to implement their strategy going forward”.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “While customer service standards on our phone lines are still not where we want them to be, we’re making strong progress in our efforts to improve our customer service and additional funding has been confirmed by the government this week.”

They said that millions more people used its online services last year, and encouraged customers to opt for the app where they can.

“But, as we have recognised, these changes need to happen at a speed and in ways that our customers are comfortable with,” they added.

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