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July 15, 2022updated 18 Jul 2022 8:52am

HMRC response to joint letter on service standards acknowledges areas to ‘renew’ focus

By Katherine Dumbell

A response has been received to a joint letter from ICAEW and other UK professional bodies detailing service level statistics, ADL review, and service dashboard updates in response to the issues raised.  

The joint letter from ICAS, CIOT, ICAEW, and ATT was sent to HMRC director general customer services Myrtle Lloyd on 15 June. Lloyd has responded, and posted the response on the agent online forum, detailing current performance measurement and steps taken to improve services.   

The professional bodies continued to receive reports from members about poor HMRC service levels. HMRC service standard issues frequently raised to the signatories of the letter included self-assessment registrations and refunds, correspondence about VAT grouping and the option to tax, section 455 refunds, responses to technical queries, corporation tax post, and returns not processed. 

Feedback also indicates that performance on the ADL can be erratic, with sometimes very long wait times, calls sometimes being cut off unexpectedly, and promised call backs not always happening.  

On performance, Lloyd comments: “In terms of our performance, we made solid progress in 21/22 and this will carry on in 2022/23.  

“We aim to answer all calls to the agent dedicated line (ADL) within 10 minutes and our data shows that we rarely exceed this. If any agents are facing specific problems, then I would appreciate a bit more information so that we can investigate what has gone wrong.  

“We are reviewing the ADL position, ahead of a bespoke RBSG to discuss this over the next few weeks.  

“In terms of our other tax lines, our average call wait times (year-to-date) have fallen by seven minutes between April 2021 to February 2022 and we are continuing to improve these services, by recruiting and training extra staff.  

“We have also increased the proportion of correspondence cleared within 15 days by more than 20 percentage points between April 2021 and February 2022. Our overall customer satisfaction has remained above 80 per cent but we know that there are areas we need to renew our focus to make sure our service levels are where they it should be.” 

The joint letter also noted delays to the GOV.UK rollout of the HMRC service dashboard and its integration with the ‘Where’s My Reply’ service.  

Lloyd commented: “I appreciate the trial went on longer than expected, but this was to ensure data anomalies were fixed.” 

The service dashboard has been moved out of the testing phase and is now available on GOV.UK, as is the improved ‘Where’s My Reply’. These allow agents and taxpayers to see how long they can expect it to take for HMRC to deal with various types of correspondence and claims.  

ICAS has received reports from Members about the dashboard not being comprehensive. ICAS welcomes input from Members at tax@icas.com and will continue to raise feedback at meetings with HMRC and through the agent online forum. Members can also consider joining the forum if they haven’t already.  

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