The tax professional bodies and the tax charities have been working with HMRC to help identify areas of HMRC’s service for improvement since September 2011. This joint project was set up in the wake of the Treasury Committee’s report in July 2011 which was critical of aspects of HMRC’s service. The project is usually known as the ‘Clasper initiative’ after the HMRC chairman who chairs the project group, though it is officially termed the Joint Initiative on HMRC Service Delivery (JIHSD).
The new joint statement covering progress to date on the Clasper Initiative has been published today on the HMRC website, is attached here and copied below.
While appreciative of feedback from members of the professional bodies that shows that there is still much work to do on a number of service areas, the initiative to date has made excellent progress in a number of key areas, as set out in the update.
It has also been instrumental in persuading HMRC that additional resources need to be invested in call centres to improve the service. See HMRC’s press release and CIOT’s press release welcoming the plans to recruit an additional 1,000 call centre staff to help improve significantly the number of calls to HMRC that are answered first time and to reduce waiting times on calls.
START OF JOINT STATEMENT
In September 2011, Mike Clasper - Chairman of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) hosted a meeting in response to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee’s recommendation that HMRC should work closely with the professional bodies, tax charities and businesses to improve the end-to-end experience of dealing with HMRC.
Representatives from the following organisations attended:
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
- Chartered Institute of Taxation
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Association of Accounting Technicians
- Association of Taxation Technicians
- Low Incomes Tax Reform Group
- TaxHelp for Older People.
We agreed a detailed programme of work aimed at improving service delivery and reviewed progress in December 2011 and April 2012. We held the last meeting on 25 July.
Progress on the agreed objectives
A considerable programme of work has been undertaken. While feedback from members of the professional bodies shows that there is still work to do on a number of service areas, the initiative to date has involved (and delivered):
- Undertaking a series of highly successful visits to each others’ premises that helped both sides better understand the issues from each others’ perspective. Insight from these visits identified points in the process where inefficiencies occur.
- Implementing a number of improvements around the P35 end of year return process, including an extra reminder and more timely letters to say that returns were late and potentially subject to penalties. We published a joint statement in Taxation. The aim was to increase the number of returns filed on time and reduce the number of penalties issued for failure to file. HMRC received over 70,000 extra P35 No Return To Make notifications and over 85,000 extra returns as a result of this exercise. This means fewer employers have incurred P35 penalties this year.
Read the joint statement in Taxation
- Expanding the email pilot launched earlier this year to cover more agents (including larger firms) and widening the scope of the pilot to include other technical offices within HMRC. Feedback from those involved has been enthusiastic. Work is under way to evaluate the potential for email communication based on the experience currently being gained.
- Establishing a new single point of contact for PAYE and Self Assessment aspects of bereavement cases in Cardiff including a priority telephone service. New guidance has been introduced and standard letters improved with the help of tax charities. Work is continuing to further update form R27, to improve the quality of training and call handling, and to join up with Child Benefit and Tax Credit offices. The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners has joined the project alongside Tax Help for Older People. A sub-group is working on improving agent authorisation processes to reflect the particular needs of those dealing with bereavement cases. And work is well under way to launch an online bereavement tool in the autumn.
- Improving post processes via the Working Together Post Group. This has included launching an online progress-chasing tool that enables PAYE employees and agents to look up and check when a response can be expected to a query about a form, letter or repayment.
Find out more on the 'Where's my reply' tracker
- We have also produced advice for agents via their professional bodies to help them better signpost mail so that it arrives at the correct location and can be dealt with more efficiently.
- Identifying and analysing problems with PAYE codes through the Coding sub-group to improve accuracy. Work is being undertaken to improve the flow of pension information between the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC and to automate the issue of codes when state and occupational pensions are paid for the first time.
- Improving the processes surrounding repayments. This includes an in-depth review into the repayment claim form R40, starting a project to encourage customers to complete a form R85 and register for gross interest to avoid an annual claim, and setting up a working group to develop a full range of options around iforms.
- Looking in detail at post and call handling performance information through a Performance Indicator sub-group. We have agreed further practical measures to improve Contact Centre performance and plan to publish information on call waiting times in the autumn. We continue to work jointly on agreed performance measures and are committed to ensuring that the measures we agree to adopt are clear, meaningful and designed to drive real improvement in service delivery.
Read the press release on Investment in Contact Centres
We are conducting a further round of visits using the expertise in Working Together to ensure that the issues we are addressing are the ones that really matter to those who deal with HMRC. For example, we are expanding our work to ‘deep dive’ into debt management and banking issues. The principle of working 'outside in' and not 'inside out' continues to underpin the project. These visits will form the foundation of the next set of priority issues to take forward.
Mike Clasper leaves HMRC this August. Lin Homer, HMRC’s Chief Executive will take over as chair of the Joint Steering Group to ensure it continues to have sponsorship at the highest level within HMRC. The professional bodies and tax charities also intend to maintain commitment at the highest level within their organisations.
We meet again in the autumn, although the working groups will continue to meet more regularly. We will continue to provide regular updates on progress.
END OF JOINT STATEMENT
10 August 2012