Survey puts spotlight back on HMRC’s helpline

It would be fair to say that it’s been a turbulent year for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

This week, the tax authority attracted additional criticism after it emerged that, on average, someone calling the HMRC helpline can expect to wait 38 minutes to get an answer.

A survey, co-ordinated by the consumer watchdog Which?, found that the wait was more than twice as long last year, when a typical caller was found to spend 18 minutes on hold.

The one bit of good news is that only seven out of 100 calls were cut off, down from 29 when the same survey was carried out in 2014.

Officials have come under mounting pressure to improve their response times and the latest research is likely to bring fresh calls for HMRC to step up its performance.

Responding to the survey, the tax authority suggested the Which? research – conducted during September and October of this year – was out-of-date and there had been a marked improvement in customer service in the past few months.

Over 3,000 more customer service staff are understood to have been recruited to answer telephone enquiries.

A spokesman said: “Our service levels were not good enough at busy periods earlier this year, and we have apologised for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”