"HM Revenue and Customs: Handling telephone enquiries", published by the National Audit Office on 15 January, says that HMRC's customer contact directorate answered only 57% of the 103 million attempted calls in 2008-09. This compares with 71% in the year
before and an industry benchmark of more than 90%.
In the first half of 2009-10 the percentage of calls answered rose to 73%.
Call volumes vary greatly throughout the year, ranging from 4 million to 17 million per month in 2008-09, but the department's staffing levels do not fluctuate in line with this. Consequently call handling performance also varied throughout the year, with
only 33% of answered during the tax credits renewals peak in July and 85% answered in December.
The report recommends that HMRC should consider outsourcing and part-year permanent contracts - now that would be an innovation.
Sussex Accounts Recovery in St Leonards on Sea wrote to me in November accusing me of not having paid a months Tax/National Insurance for my Business - I had in fact paid them 1 day earlier than I needed to have done - I blame the convenience of Internet Banking
They invited me to phone them to discuss my non-payment. The phone number quoted on the top of the letter is permanently engaged, and I mean permanently - I can never get it to ring, even out of hours.
Any attempt to find an alternative phone number via Google and local Governement websites only results in a British Telecomm intercept with "sorry that number is no longer in operation".
I phoned the HMRC Employer Helpline who admitted that they didn't have an alternative number for Sussex Recovery, and that they had had similar complaints, and that they "don't know what on earth is going on down in St Leonards".