Update on Joint Initiative on HMRC Service Delivery

15 April 2014

HMRC has outlined a summary of the improvements made to the end-to-end experience of dealing with HMRC.

Summary of Achievements

The Joint Initiative responded to Treasury Select Committee recommendations that HMRC should work closely with professional bodies, tax charities and businesses to improve customers’ experience through better service and transparent performance measures.

A fresh approach was adopted with HMRC visiting agents’ offices and vice versa. This enabled both parties to understand the other’s perspective and see at first hand the issues encountered.

As a result a number of improvements have been made to HMRC services since September 2011 when the initiative began.

Contact Centres

HMRC has agreed to set a new standard of answering 80% of calls within five minutes and be more transparent by publishing Contact Centre performance (including the percentage of calls dealt with successfully and the time it takes for a customer to be put through). HMRC invested an additional £34 million and redeployed 1000 extra staff to Contact Centres where 78.4% of calls were handled between April 2013 and February 2014 – up 4.1% on the same period last year

Post

Dates have been changed on bulk mail where action had to be taken by a deadline to show month/year rather than a specific date. It had been confusing and misleading customers when mail was delivered some time after the date shown on the correspondence so that’s been sorted. HMRC now gives customers more notice when they need to respond, for example for the first time over 3 million SA customers received their SA Statement reminders by 27 December 2013. From April 2013 to February 2014 HMRC cleared 84% of post within 15 working days – exceeding our commitment to deal with 80% of post within this time.

Repayments

A pilot scheme was introduced to trial filing R40 (claim for repayment of tax deducted from savings and investments) returns online. Agents’ software products provide the option of sending clients’ income information as an online SA tax return so we have speeded up the process by enabling agents to claim repayments by the same method. Customers have also been encouraged to complete form R85 and register for gross interest to avoid making an annual claim.

Penalties

Improvements have been introduced to the P35 end of year process to help employers minimise or avoid end of year filing penalties. HMRC has sent an extra reminder for 2012-13 and more timely letters to advise a return was late and penalties potentially accruing.

Debt Management and Banking

Debts are no longer pursued where a CIS repayment can be set against the amount due. HMRC officers have clearer identification and guidance on customers’ rights and a telephone hotline is available for agents to call HMRC when there’s a collector at a client’s premises. New technology has been introduced to ensure that information available to collectors is up to date.

Bereavement

We created a single point of contact for bereaved PAYE and SA customers (the bereavement helpline handles over 8000 calls a month within 9.5 seconds) and arranged for the affairs of a surviving partner to be reviewed at the same time as the deceased’s. We have introduced an interactive online guide with information tailored to the customer to explain what needs to be done when dealing with HMRC after a death and improved the form R 27, for reclaiming or paying tax when someone dies.

These are just a few of the achievements of the Joint Initiative. There have also been improvements to the agent authorisation (64-8) process resulting in quicker turnaround times and HMRC has launched an email pilot and an HMRC Agents’ Blog.

What’s next?

Setting out our successes so far does not mean that we are complacent. Far from it. We know that there is still work to do. We will, for example, be monitoring the plans we’ve put in place to ensure that CIS repayment arrangements work better this year. We’ll continue to work on HMRC’s service standards and also focus on the move to new online services for agents, including the migration from the Government Gateway.

The results of the Joint Initiative show what can be achieved through HMRC senior managers and representatives of the professional bodies working together with trust, dedication and commitment on both sides.

Paul Aplin of ICAEW said ’The changes to the P35 process resulted in significantly fewer employers facing penalties, the publication of call centre statistics increased transparency and extra call centre resource was allocated as a result. We are now working on improvements to CIS repayment turnaround and looking at new service standards. The project has delivered some real results on service delivery, but we still have much to do (and the enthusiasm to do it)’.

Follow this link for further information on the Joint Initiative on HMRC Service Delivery