01 August 2023

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published the ‘Contact Engagement Programme: Optimisation progress-chasing self-serve app - screening equality impact assessment’, outlining HMRC’s initial equality impact assessment.

HMRC screens all policy changes for equality impacts on groups sharing protected characteristics, and to identify any appropriate mitigations, as required. This is in line with HMRC’s commitments to the Equality Act 2010, Public Sector Equality Duty (section 149 of the Equality Act) and Northern Ireland Equality Scheme commitments, to publish impact assessments.

It has been reported that following the recent HMRC telephony migration, the Chief Digital Information Office (CDIO) considered other optimisation opportunities to improve customer experience and reduce resource demand. The progress-chasing process will ask the customer to input the date they submitted their query/request using their telephone keypads after which a voice message will inform the customer when to expect a reply. If the customer agrees, they will also be sent a Secure Messaging Service (SMS) which will include the date. Advice will also be provided about checking GOV.UK - ‘check when you can expect a reply from HMRC’. The customer will also be asked to check their Personal Tax Account (PTA) for when to expect a reply. Moreover, the opportunity to speak to an adviser will also be made clear during the call.

The customer groups affected are:

  • self-assessment filers
  • PAYE customers
  • tax credit claimants
  • child benefit claimants.

The customer will access the service by calling the existing HMRC telephone number and the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) process will determine what further information will be provided. If the customer enters their details incorrectly, they will go through to an HMRC advisor who will support them with their query. This is also the case for customers who do not respond to the information input request in time.

When a customer calls HMRC as part of this change, the customer will be invited to:

  • take part in an optional four-question survey
  • explain ‘in a few words’ why they are calling
  • to choose either option one (enquiry submitted online) or option two (enquiry submitted via post) on their telephone keypads
  • to enter the date, they submitted their enquiry in the format yyyy-mm-dd.

Depending on what answers are provided to the above, different types of information will be sent via SMS to the customer:

  • the expected due date for their reply
  • guidance on checking their PTA for their reply to due date (if submitted online)
  • being guided to GOV.UK and specifically the section ‘check when you can expect a reply from HMRC’.

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