The AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) has reiterated its call for the government to increase investment in HMRC’s service levels, after the publication of HMRC’s Charter annual report showed declining levels of performance and customer satisfaction. 

The report shows that complaints to HMRC in 2022 increased by 14% compared to the previous year. Customer satisfaction was down by 3% and the proportion of telephone adviser attempts handled declined from 77.3% in 2021 to 71.1% – well below HMRC’s stated target of 85%. 

The report follows the announcement by HMRC last month that it is undertaking a new seasonal pilot to redirect self-assessment queries from its helpline to digital services until 4 September, in order to free up advisers to deal with urgent queries. In response, AAT expressed concern about the impact of this pilot on taxpayers, particularly those who are digitally excluded due to reasons such as disability or health issues. 

The need for further funding for HMRC has been an ongoing issue which AAT has continued to push for the government to address in recent months. Earlier this year, ahead of the Spring Budget, AAT and nine other professional bodies wrote to the Chancellor, urging him to increase investment in HMRC’s customer service levels or risk losing tax revenue, which would affect the UK’s economic growth and amount spent on public services. 

Commenting on this, AAT director of professional standards and policy, Adam Harper, said: “The performance metrics in HMRC’s new annual Charter report are a major source of concern and clearly show customer services are going in the wrong direction. This is causing genuine harm to businesses as well as wider UK productivity. AAT’s members have repeatedly expressed their frustration of facing severe delays with HMRC, even with simple tasks like VAT registration. 

“HMRC can only do so much based on the limited resources they have available. Going digital is not a silver bullet to this issue – it must also be supported by sufficient investment in front-line services. AAT would urge the government to listen to these warning signs and announce additional investment in the Autumn Statement to ensure taxpayers and businesses get a more timely and responsive service from HMRC.” 

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