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Welfare Tax Credits: Telephone Services

HM Treasury written question – answered on 3rd November 2014.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will take steps to reduce waiting times experienced by (a) people on a low income and (b) other people using the HM Revenue and Customs tax credits helpline.

Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel The Exchequer Secretary

HMRC is responsible for handling calls to the Tax Credits helpline but is unable to distinguish, at the point of contact with its telephone system, if a caller is on a low income or otherwise.

To keep the cost of dealing with HMRC as low as possible, the department has made it cheaper to call in most cases by rolling out 03 telephone numbers and by introducing voice recognition technology to its telephone systems, this allows some customers to get the answer they need without waiting to speak to adviser.

HMRC recognises that wait times across all lines of business are not where it, or its customers, would like them to be. Over the next few months HMRC will be migrating its existing telephone services to a new telephony platform. This will improve the way that the queuing systems work and over time, will lead to reduced wait times.

HMRC is also looking at a number of initiatives to improve customer service and wait times. These include: greater flexible working across HMRC to improve its response to particular peaks in demand and is investing in online and digital services for the future, opening up a wider variety of channels.

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