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HM Revenue and Customs struggling to cope with call volumes

The Whitehall spending watchdog has today revealed that four out of ten telephone calls to HM Revenue and Customs went unanswered in the tax year 2008/09. This equates to a staggering 44 million calls out of the 103 million received over the period. While the department employs the equivalent of over 10,000 full-time staff at a cost of £233 million there are serious concerns about value for money and the standard of services provided.

This comes at a time when the UK government stands accused of overinvestment in the public sector which has produced a very low return for taxpayers. Earlier this week we saw suggestions that the UK government would be closing a number of tax offices up and down the country, something which is unlikely to help the promise to improve pickup rates at HM Revenue and Customs during the current tax year.

Even though there have been improvements in the current tax year, with pickup rates now around 27%, it is difficult to see how a reduction in staff numbers and reduced investment into the department will allow this figure to improve further in the short to medium term. It is now highly likely that the UK government will encourage more and more people to "go online" rather than using the telephone.

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