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Performance targets at HMRC still not being met

December 3, 2013


HMRC have published their half year performance statistics for the period from April to September 2013, and have admitted that they have some way to go in order to meet their customer service targets. 

These performance statistics cover the period of the wider roll out of RTI.  HMRC reports that greater than “1.59 million PAYE schemes with employees (more than 92.6 per cent) have started reporting in real time.  We have now aligned more than 47.5 million individual live PAYE records (more than 99 per cent), making sure that the employee record is matched with the correct employer scheme.”

Although call handling for this period improved from 2013-13, the overall number of calls handled was still below HMRC’s target.  Calls handled totalled 72.7 per cent of call attempts compared to a target of 90%.  HMRC listed a number of causes for this failure, including: “technology-related issues, using extra people on our employer helpline to support the introduction of RTI and a very busy final week leading up to the tax credits renewal deadline on 31 July.”

The report outlines changes to the way calls are handled by HMRC contact centres.  Automated speech recognition features have been introduced this month, after having been delayed earlier in the year in order for them to be “fine-tuned”.  HMRC staff are also now expected to be able to work in multiple business areas in order to increase capacity, “according to priority and customer demand.”

One implication of this flexible approach was that post handling levels were short of target, as post teams were deployed to supplement call handling staff.  77% of post was cleared within 15 working days, just below the 80% target.  This was an improvement from the same period last year.

HMRC anticipates that performance in this area will continue to improve throughout 2013-14 as teams are “trained to deal flexibly with customer enquiries […] whether it’s a phone call, a letter or a work item generated by our IT system.”

This report comes as HMRC announces a voluntary redundancy scheme in an effort to lose around 2,000 staff as part of its ongoing reduction of staff numbers.

In the words of an HMRC spokesperson, HMRC explains its continuing plans to shed staff  as the result of “an increasing number of customers choosing to do business with us through our online services, which has reduced our need for physical sites. This change has seen the nature of our work shift away from mass-processing work of the past to more specialist, but less labour-intensive, roles required in effective policing of the tax system.”

However in a direct response to this quotation by an HMRC employee, posted in a comment on the Civil Service World website, the HMRC member of staff said:

I think the reality is that the gradual withdrawal of a lot of important front line services has FORCED more and more people to use other means to deal with us, rather than them actually volunteering to do so.”

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