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MPs’ report says HMRC service is unacceptable

The Treasury select committee says budget cuts, poor management and inflated expectations of IT projects have caused HM Revenue and Customs’ customer service standards to fall to “unacceptable levels”.

In a report on the effectiveness of HMRC, published last week, the committee says the evidence received in its inquiry was “disturbing”.

It says: “HMRC’s delivery of services to the general public has fallen to unacceptable levels in several areas. Many factors have contributed to this process – overly ambitious expectations for IT projects, sustained cuts in resources, a command and control management culture, increasingly complex tax legislation and the legacy of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise merger.

“The evidence we have received about the management culture wit-hin HMRC, supported by staff survey results, is very disturbing.

’HMRC’s delivery of services to the general public has fallen to unacceptable levels in several areas’

“There is a perception the department is run on a principle of close control and management scrutiny, with little opportunity for individuals to develop autonomy and exercise their skills.”

A National Audit Office report, published this month, shows HMRC has reported savings of £1.4bn since 2005. It must reduce its running costs by£1.6bn by 2015, cutting 10,000 staff in the process.

The select committee says HMRC must improve its record on the percentage of phone calls it picks up and draw up minimum standards for how quickly it responds to postal queries to stop other parts of the system getting clogged up by follow-up enquiries.

It adds that the flawed implementation of PAYE IT systems have done “significant damage” to public perception of HMRC but that historically low service standards indicate it cannot be the sole cause.

The report calls on HMRC to work with professional tax bodies and charities to develop customer service indicators to help counter poor service.

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  1. I recently have received one of these threatening letters. I was rudely spoken to when I phoned up to enquire why they sent me the letter requesting SA’s for two years ago. They even admitted that they had been sending letters to the wrong address, not my new address that they confirmed I had up dated them with. Why do they believe nothing is their fault? The only joy of being given 14 days to do two years of SA was that it turned out they owed my ¬£2000! I got my local MP to send them a letter asking for an explanation but to this day have not had an answer as to why they are able to run the HMRC like a joke. I wish I could run my business in such a poor way and still be in business!

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