The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) has welcomed a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) that shows how cutting resources has led to a deterioration in the service HMRC has been able to offer to individual taxpayers.
The report, entitled The Quality of Service for Individual Taxpayers, covers the period from 2010 to the present. It finds that after a marked improvement in customer service between 2010 and 2013, there was then a very substantial deterioration which the NAO attributes to releasing too many customer service staff before completing changes to its service. The deterioration continued throughout 2014/15 and it was only after recruiting more staff that service improved in the latter half of 2015/16.
Anthony Thomas, Chairman of LITRG, said:
“The NAO’s fair and balanced report demonstrates beyond doubt that if you cut resources too deeply and too fast, the quality of customer service will suffer. We highlighted this to HMRC at the time of its cuts.
“It is just as important, if not more so, for HMRC to maintain a service that will satisfy the compliant majority, and keep them compliant, as to focus its resources to counter tax avoidance and evasion, an activity that has attracted extra investment.
“It is good news, though, that HMRC believes it is once again on track to deliver a better customer service following more investment. We can but echo the NAO’s warning not to allow future budget cuts to reverse that trend which would be a worrying development with Making Tax Digital high on its agenda.”