Understaffing at HMRC is creating delays that are hindering economic activity.

17 May 2023


The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) has reported significant issues surrounding unemployment at HM Revenue and Customs.

The institute has called for an emergency task force to be drafted following complaints of delays and difficulties getting through to the HMRC.

HMRC put out a statement that they were responding to most correspondence within 15 days, adding that they were currently successfully answering about 70,000 calls a day, with customer satisfaction being consistently high.

But those in the tax industry remain unhappy and concerned about communication with the HMRC, with the chief executive of the ICAEW saying: “We’re calling on ministers to set up an emergency taskforce to identify steps to eliminate HMRC/s backlog and improve its service standards, so that in the future it supports, not inhibits, business growth and maximises the tax receipts needed to fund public services.”

HMRC acknowledged these problems, arguing that many of these issues derived from VAT registration fraudsters in July 2022. 

This led to a new security system, which meant “some genuine customers were caught in the new processes”.

Another issue that hinders the HMRC’s performance is there lack of customer-facing staff. With those in customer-facing roles at the HMRC dropped from 25,500 to 19,500 over the past five years as it “moved more customers to digital systems”.

Again, this has caused concern with the HMRC seeing as there is limited contact with actual staff members.

HMRC has said that they are still suffering from a backlog of correspondence caused by the pandemic but are making further digital improvements which are key to moving customers away from phone and post and making further efficiencies. 



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