HMRC has published its performance data for the quarter to 31 December 2017.
The telephone service stats showed a welcome improvement over the disappointing results for the quarter to 30 September 2017. The average time taken to answer a call in the quarter was 4 minutes 20 seconds, an improvement over the 5 minutes in the previous quarter. Overall, the cumulative call waiting time in the nine months to 31 December 2017 was 4 mins 32 seconds, still below the 3 minutes and 54 seconds recorded for the year 2016/17. Against this, the percentage of calls that were not answered in the quarter increased from 12.8% to 14.5%, and for the year to date 12.9% of callers hung up compared to only 8.4% in 2016/17.
The performance of the Agent Dedicated Line (ADL) continues to be far better than the general lines. The average waiting time in the quarter was 7 seconds and all calls were answered within 2 minutes, so well done to HMRC for continuing to maintain a good record on the ADL. The performance of the employers’ helpline, while not as good as that of the ADL, showed an improvement in the quarter, down from over 4 minutes in the previous year to only 2 mins and 13 seconds in December 2017.
Post handling continued to show an improved performance after a poor start in the first quarter of 2017/18. In the quarter to December 2017 86.6% of post was cleared within 15 days – the best quarterly figure for the 2017/18 and 2016/17 and above the 80% target.
iForms are given priority and 95.3% were cleared within seven days, slightly above the target of 95%.
Note that processing of paper self assessment returns is not included within these statistics.
Comments and feedback
Taken overall the quarterly performance statistics showed a steadily improving position for 2017/18. This is welcome, but we should also mention that in its report into HMRC’s performance published on 12 January 2018, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) questioned whether HMRC’s figures were a true reflection of the position. This is because times do not include listening to the recorded message before entering the queue and also because callers who hung up before joining the queue are counted as being successfully dealt with when this may not be the case. The PAC recommended that HMRC should introduce a new set of measures that better reflect the actual experience of customers, and that the time spent in the automated telephony system should be included in the statistics.
How was it for you in the January filing season? How do your experiences compare with the above? We would welcome members’ comments on HMRC’s performance – please post them below.
A client, who was in very modestly paid employment in 2016/17, was nonetheless faced with an Income Tax liability of several hundred pounds to pay at the end of that tax year because his employer had failed to deduct any tax at all - despite showing his correct tax code on his P60. I wrote to HMRC to say I considered this very unsatisfactory, was surprised it could have happened and that I trusted they would make proper representations to his employer. I had a prompt response from which it was obvious they had not read my letter properly as they simply confirmed all the figurers were correct. I wrote back saying they had missed the point of my first letter - I told them no further reply from them was needed.