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HMRC call centre numbers receive boost but quality of staff questioned 22 August 2012

There will be almost 10,000 staff answering calls by 2014

Of a total £34m investment £9m is planned this tax year and up to £25m in 2013/14.

“While callers will therefore see some improvements in the current year it will take everything up to two years before calls are answered as speedily as one would wish,” said George Bull, senior tax partner at Baker Tilly.

And as it can also take up to two years for call centre staff to adapt to their roles callers to HMRC will need to wait until 2014/15 before both the speed and quality of responses is improved, says Bull.

Alastair Kendrick, tax director at MacIntyre Hudson, says there is a lot of concern at present over the quality of the answers given by HMRC call centre staff.

“It often seems they are simply reading the HMRC manual to give an answer,” he said. “I just wonder where these 1,000 people will be recruited from and what training they will be given?”

HMRC call centre performance has improved from 48% of all attempts handled in 2010/11 to 74% in 2011/12, but falls short of industry standards.

The Revenue’s chief executive Lin Homer said: “The feedback we get is that the quality of the advice we give when people get through is good, but we haven’t been answering enough calls.”

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