The cost of calling HMRC is dependent on several factors. Calls are charged to the customer based on the tariff arrangements they have with their service provider, the device they use for the call and the location from which they call.
However, HMRC recognises that the cost of calling its 0845 numbers can be an issue for some customers—particularly those using pay-as-you-go mobile phones. It has therefore been actively reviewing its numbering strategy to see if it can find ways of reducing the costs involved while striking the right balance between costs to the caller and costs to the public purse.
I can confirm that as part of the process of agreeing its next telephony contract—which is due to take effect by June 2013—HMRC will continue to investigate alternatives to 0845 numbers. As a first and immediate step, HMRC expect that it will by the end of the year be able to offer an 0345 number for those customers calling its tax credit helpline (which last year accounted for around 40% of the total calls handled by its contact centre network).
The provision of a 0345 number is expected to result in significant cost savings for the majority of callers to the line.