Report confirms loss of HMRC staff adversely affected customer service

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has welcomed a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) that shows how cutting resources has led to a deterioration in the service HMRC has been able to offer to individual taxpayers.

The report, entitled The Quality of Service for Individual Taxpayers, covers the period from 2010 to the present. It finds that after a marked improvement in customer service between 2010 and 2013, there was then a very substantial deterioration which the NAO attributes to releasing too many customer service staff before completing changes to its service. The deterioration continued throughout 2014/15 and it was only after recruiting more staff that service improved in the latter half of 2015/16.

Anthony Thomas, Chairman of LITRG, said:

“The NAO’s fair and balanced report demonstrates beyond doubt that if you cut resources too deeply and too fast, the quality of customer service will suffer. We highlighted this to HMRC at the time of its cuts.

“It is just as important, if not more so, for HMRC to maintain a service that will satisfy the compliant majority, and keep them compliant, as to focus its resources to counter tax avoidance and evasion, an activity that has attracted extra investment.

“It is good news, though, that HMRC believes it is once again on track to deliver a better customer service following more investment. We can but echo the NAO’s warning not to allow future budget cuts to reverse that trend which would be a worrying development with Making Tax Digital high on its agenda.”

Contact: Hamant Verma, External Relations Officer, 0207 340 2702 HVerma@ciot.org.uk (Out of hours contact: George Crozier, 07740 477 374)

Notes for editors

Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

The LITRG is an initiative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) to give a voice to the unrepresented. Since 1998 LITRG has been working to improve the policy and processes of the tax, tax credits and associated welfare systems for the benefit of those on low incomes.

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. The CIOT’s 17,600 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.