HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) has publically apologised for their awful customer service towards small businesses that are finding it hard to complete tax forms.
Birmingham Northfield’s MP, Richard Burden provided evidence showing that during the second quarter in the last financial year of 2014, only one-third of the calls made to the contact centres were sorted within five minutes. Between April and June 2014, only 40.3% were dealt with efficiently, a quarter of the calls were not answered at all.
Many unions complained after HMRC shut down 14 offices, making almost 700 employees voluntarily redundant in 2014. The UK’s tax system can be very complex – a lot of people, including small business owners, struggle when filling out their forms. Often, advice is needed but when they are not always able to get through to the contact centres, the lack of attention required can result to hefty fines and some could end up paying the wrong tax.
Mr Burden has also written a letter to Matthew Hancock (the paymaster general) which explained the focus on digital reforming – and that the administrative work done online – is hurting those businesses with a lack of computer access.
The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses said,
“the recent evidence of poor performance by HMRC’s telephone contact centre is therefore disappointing. HMRC must do more to make sure… that the service levels are raised significantly.”
Improvement is underway as HMRC plan to employ 3,500 more staff to provide prompt customer service. They are also holding free webinars for businesses on their digital services, plus other webinars for everyone, all of which are all publically advertised on social media. Twitter is one of the largest social platforms for businesses, and their news feed has now become a lot more useful, with content giving information for setting up as a contractor or new employer and others about types of tax and what to do.
Head of businesscomparison.com, Phil Brennan explains;
“Tax can be extremely stressful, especially for business owners. Without great customer service, the stress will only continue to build. The improvements that are being made will hopefully ensure that HMRC can assist and guide people through the complex tax system.”