The apology came following the release of the ‘Administration and Effectiveness of HM Revenue & Customs’ report, which concluded that there was a “serious risk” that if communicating with HMRC became too time-consuming, difficult or expensive, “respect for the tax system and, with it, voluntary compliance, may be undermined”
MPs slammed HMRC’s performance and found a list of problems including bad management and demoralized staff. MPs also attacked HMRC for scrapping printed tax advice leaflets and putting all the information on-line.
Other problems highlighted in the report included unacceptable waiting times for replies to letters, over 50 per cent of telephone calls going unanswered and callers regularly being given incorrect information by inexperienced call centre staff.
The report said that “HMRC's delivery of services to the general public has fallen to unacceptable levels in several areas. There is considerable dissatisfaction among the public and tax professionals with the service provided by the department.”
The Committee also noted that the “flawed implementation” of the PAYE system had done “significant damage' to the public perception of HMRC and the general tax system.”
Amongst recommendations made to HMRC to improve its service are improving its telephone system, looking into an alternative to 0845 numbers and offering alternatives to on-line communication.
Mr Clasper admitted that HMRC had not been good enough in 2010 but added: “In 2011 we've been working very, very hard to improve things. We're handling the calls immediately much more frequently than we did in 2010 and as far as individual customers are concerned you know the post levels have dropped in half. That's not where we want to be but it's a lot better than where we were in 2010.”
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