HMRC to open helpline 12 hours a day, every day

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has announced plans to extend helpline opening hours to improve customer service.

The tax authority will extend its helpline opening hours for 12 hours a day, seven days a week following criticism from the public. It will be the first time the service has been available on a Sunday since cutting 11,000 jobs between 2010 and 2014.

According to a National Audit Office survey, customers had waited on a line for an average of 47 minutes in the run-up to the self-assessment paper tax return deadline in October last year.

The consumer report also revealed that some 4.2 million people gave up waiting after an average of 16 minutes.

In response, HMRC added an additional 2,400 staff to its call centres last autumn, claiming that customers now wait just five minutes on average to speak to an advisor.

Speaking at HMRC’s annual conference, chief executive Jon Thompson said: “I believe we can reduce waiting times further. I also believe we should be open between 8am and 8pm for seven days a week, an aspiration I think this organisation should be able to deliver in the next year or so.”