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AM wants changes in costs for calling tax line

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: October 01, 2012

Peter Black

Peter Black

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A SWANSEA-BASED AM has criticised delays in dealing with queries on a tax credit hotline.

Peter Black, AM for South Wales West, claimed people were being left hanging on the phone by Revenue and Customs with queries about tax codes and when asking about a rebate.

Callers are also said to be facing problems when reporting a change of circumstances over Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, or asking about overpayments and underpayments.

Mr Black claimed the service was on an 0845 number which charged mobile users 40 pence per minute.

But HMRC said it was not the case and that they were using the less expensive 0345 number instead.

A spokeswoman also said extra contact centre staff were recruited back in August to handle calls.

Mr Black said: "I regularly get comments and complaints from residents in the South Wales West region over the way that the tax authorities handle enquiries from individual taxpayers.

"One matter that concerns people is the amount of time that they get left hanging on the telephone waiting to query a tax code, ask about a rebate, report a change of circumstances over Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, or enquire about overpayments and underpayments for example.

"Revenue and Customs don't have a target time by which they will answer a call."

He added: "In addition, as taxpayers are encouraged to report changes of circumstances promptly, it is quite wrong that they should have to wait ages for such calls to be answered, and then get charged for the wait into the bargain."

Action

Mr Black said action needed to be taken quickly by Revenue and Customs over the matter.

"Right now, the average time taken by HMRC to answer a call is more than four minutes," he said.

"Given the thousands of calls they get, this must mean that many people on low incomes are waiting substantially longer and running up significant costs as a result.

"HMRC must take this matter seriously and introduce a call waiting target as a matter of urgency."

A HMRC spokeswoman added: "In August this year HMRC announced the recruitment of up to 1,000 additional contact centre staff, to achieve a target of answering 90 per cent of all calls two years earlier than planned. "We are investing an additional £9 million this year and up to £25 million in 2013/14 to reach the call centre industry standard.

"HMRC handles around 60 million calls a year and in 2011/12 we answered 74 per cent of all calls — a huge improvement on 2010/11.

"We also offer online services and other ways of serving customers which ultimately reduces their need to call us.

"But this additional investment will allow us to provide a better calls service to those customers who require it."

elizabeth.perkins@swwmedia.co.uk

01792 514615

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  • gorseboy  |  October 03 2012, 7:54PM

    Neathboy234 Tories wearing RED roettes in Surrey?Come off it! HMRC has really gone down hill since they merged Inland Revenue with Board of H.M.Customs. I worked on the Enquiry desk at TY-NANT not long after it opened then it was the personal contact with better and quicker service.Oh for the good old days.

    |   -1
  • sochat  |  October 03 2012, 6:24PM

    Now now bennyhill old chap one mustnt be jealous of people whom have more than yourself,one must work a little harder and you to can have more toodle pip.

    |   -5
  • Neathboy234  |  October 03 2012, 11:02AM

    sochat a lot of people in S wales tend to vote Labour due to the fact that they are not very well off and Labour in general look after poorer people better. We only have to look at the huge cuts in children's tax credits being cut as evidence to see this. They do of course say that U can still a red rosette on a donkey around here and he will win for Labour. The same thing can be said about the Tories in Surrey as well!!!!!

    |   1
  • Neathboy234  |  October 03 2012, 10:57AM

    I do agree with Mr Black. Isn't it a shame that we all can't afford £100/hours accountants when dealing with out tax problems!

    |   2
  • bennyhill4  |  October 03 2012, 9:44AM

    sochat,Or maybe they dont like the alternative,The posh boys or the lying libs

    |   5
  • sochat  |  October 02 2012, 7:42PM

    Dooyah Liebor voters are exactly like battered wives,no matter how badly they are treated they always go back for more.

    |   -7
  • Dooyah  |  October 02 2012, 6:25PM

    bennyhill4 They wear the same mask but, believe it or not, maxmin and sourchaf are different posters. sourchaf started sending comments to the EP a few days after the LibDums got thrashed in the Local Council Elections.

    |   3
  • Kaiser_Macsen  |  October 02 2012, 5:34PM

    hacker_jack It's just Peter Black getting the attention that he craves for day after day. HMRC is a 0345 number. How I wish the EP would refuse to print anything from Black that conflicts with reality.

    |   7
  • hacker_jack  |  October 02 2012, 4:11PM

    Anyone calling an 0845 number from a mobile needs their head read. Nearly every household still has a landline and those who don't I'm sure have a friend who would let them use theirs if they offered to pay the call fee. At an average wait of 4 minutes that's what, 10p?

    |   -2
  • GorsseinonJoe  |  October 02 2012, 10:40AM

    If you need to call the Tax Credit office and can make it, visit Ty Nant next to High Street station and ask for the Tax Credit department. You will be shown to a bank of telephones and be given a speed dial number so that you can get through, quicker and at no cost. It is impersonal but classed as "customer service", if everyone did this it would expose the pathetic system we currently have that calls itself "customer service". The staff in the Tax Credit office in Preston are still obnoxious, still think that all callers are experts in the processes and procedures of that office.

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