Revenue and Customs: Telephone Services

Treasury written question – answered at on 6 September 2023.

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Photo of Patricia Gibson Patricia Gibson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment, Farming, Agriculture and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether his Department consulted relevant stakeholders on the closure of HMRC's self-assessment helpline between 12 June and 4 September 2023 prior to the announcement of that closure; and whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of that closure on customers that are not able to access HMRC's digital support services during that period.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The summer quarter is the quietest for Self-Assessment (SA) queries. HMRC piloted the temporary and time-limited closure of the SA helpline so that c.350 advisers could be moved to other work, including clearing post items, which experience heavier demand at this time of year.

The SA helpline reopened on 4 September, five months prior to the SA filing deadline of 31 January.

Around two-thirds of all Self-Assessment calls can be resolved online by customers; piloting a seasonal Self-Assessment helpline is about positively encouraging people to use these services when they can.

The intention of the pilot was to evaluate the impact of freeing up HMRC advisors to help those with urgent or complex queries or who cannot access digital services, and to work on correspondence.

HMRC will evaluate the impact of the pilot and gather feedback from customers and external bodies as a part of the evaluation.

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