Tax office now making people wait longer
The taxman has been condemned for delays in answering phonecalls that have been costing callers £136 million a year.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said 20 million calls to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) hotlines – many of which are 0845 numbers – were not picked up at all last year.
People who did get through were also waiting longer to speak to an adviser – an average of 282 seconds compared to 107 seconds in 2009-10. In the first quarter of this year, some 6.5 million people were left holding on for longer than 10 minutes.
The NAO found that there had been some progress since thousands more staff were drafted in, with the 74 per cent pick-up rate significantly higher than the 48 per cent recorded in 2010/11.
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However, the report warned that the figures probably underestimated the issue, as calls are counted as answered even if they do not reach an adviser.
It also criticised the lack of target times for picking up the phone.