Lin Homer, HMRC chief executive, has apologised for the organisation’s call handling after it was described as “staggeringly bad” by the Commons Treasury Committee.
With only half of calls answered between April and June, Homer (pictured) admitted HMRC had struggled to cope, but pointed out to the committee that changes led to an improvement between July and September, when 76% of calls were dealt with by a member of staff or an appropriate recorded message.
Homer said performance during this period was “marginally higher than last year” but Conservative MP Mark Garnier said it was “completely unacceptable” that 24% of calls were not answered. He also said that if HMRC was a commercial service, it would have gone bust with a similar level of performance.
Homer outlined the steps HMRC had taken to improve call handling, including a new telephony system allowing calls to be dropped into any call centre, meaning up to 20,000 staff could be deployed to answer the phone at any one time.
HMRC’s call-handling performance was also criticised recently by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which described the service as unacceptable.