Revenue and Customs

Treasury written question – answered on 21st May 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Griffiths Andrew Griffiths Conservative, Burton

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost per minute is of calls to the 0845 3000627 HM Revenue and Customs hotline number; and what information his Department holds on (a) average and (b) maximum call times in the latest period for which figures are available.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Exchequer Secretary

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 19 October 2011, Hansard, column 967W, for the information you have requested on the cost of calls.

HMRC can advise that, (a) for April 2012 the average total call time was 15 minutes 35 seconds and (b) the maximum total call time for a single call was two hours 35 minutes seven seconds.

For “total call time” HMRC has included the time spent:

in the IVR automated messaging system; waiting for a call to be answered by an adviser once a customer has selected an option from the call steering menu; and speaking to an adviser.

HMRC uses a variety of measures to assess the accessibility of telephone services which include the percentage of call attempts handled by its contact centres. In 2011-12, HMRC has significantly improved the number of call attempts handled to 74% (compared to 48% in the previous year) and aims to build on that improvement.

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David Hickson - fair telecoms campaign
Posted on 23 May 2012 7:16 am (Report this annotation)

Further to my annotation on the answer given in October, as referred to above -

The answer to the question about call costs was given on BBC Radio 4 - The Money Programme - on 12 May; listen at

For the benefit of those who wish to review the essential information on call costs, I have published a briefing on this point - see

There is more comprehensive information on the cost of calling the expensive 084 numbers at

The continuing failure to adopt 03 numbers across HMRC and DWP agencies is a disgrace, some five years after it should have happened.

We now have the acknowledgement that "The provision of a 0345 number is expected to result in significant cost savings for the majority of callers to the line” (see the linked previous answer).

HMRC is imposing what will shortly be known as a "Service Charge" on callers. It thereby enables telephone companies to add on a sizeable "Access Charge", which is simply profiteering by them on top of the charging being done by HMRC.

This may be one way of supporting growth in the telecoms sector, by what amounts to additional taxation on those who are enquiring about their tax affairs. An unduly high call cost also helps HMRC save money, by discouraging queries, especially from those who find the cost of a telephone call to be a significant expense.

For most of us, this is unacceptable.

Anthony Betteridge
Posted on 24 Aug 2015 8:09 pm (Report this annotation)

Hi Just as a quick update.

Following recent changes in the law surrounding the use of chargable telephone numbersby Government Daepartments, banks and some GP's the DWP have now formally adopted 0345 telephone numbers for 'customer service' lines.

The 0345 numbers used accorss Government corrispond to previoulsy advertised 0845 telephone numbers and as such simply swapping out the first 8 for a 3 will see call charges significantly reduced - in most cases mobile phone opporators will not make any additional charge for calling an 0345 number.