HMRC plans to change telephone contact centre opening hours

by Tax Faculty Team on 02.06.2010 04:56

Tell us what you think!


In March 2010 HMRC issued an Equality Impact Assessment for consultation on What will be the impact of HMRC’s proposal to revise its Contact Centre opening hours? In the heat of the 2010 Budget and election, this one nearly passed us by and we should like to hear your views.


Contact centres include HMRC telephone services dealing with PAYE and SA, child benefit, CIS, tax credits, the self-employed, employers, national insurance, debt management and so on. HMRC lists 31 such contact centres in Appendix J of the document.


It seems that the existing contact centre opening hours have evolved rather than being designed to meet user demand profiles. This has apparently resulted in contact centres being open during some periods when demand is very low. As an example, HMRC states that Sunday opening requires 4.9% of their staff resource to handle 1.2% of total calls. The apparently low demand may, of course, stem from the fact that telephone line opening hours have not always been widely publicised in correspondence.


HMRC proposes to alter contact centre opening hours to better match resources to user demand. It believes this will result in a higher proportion of users getting through to HMRC when they call. HMRC analysis suggests that an additional 3% (1.7m) of call attempts would be answered first time by moving staff from quiet periods to busier ones in this way. However, will this be to the detriment of those who currently do use contact centres at less busy times?


The current and proposed opening times are set out in Appendix J of the consultation document and include:


  • Closing all contact centres on Sundays
  • Closing lines at 4pm on Saturdays and Bank Holidays
  • Reduce mid-week opening hours on less well-used services to reflect the individual demand profiles
  • Determining Christmas and New Year opening hours annually to reflect expected demand
  • Closing lines when IT systems are unavailable and use automated messages to handle incoming calls on those days
  • Extending opening hours as needed to meet temporary peaks in demand, such as the annual Tax Credits renewals peak.  

Please send any views you have on the proposals to angela.williams@icaew.com by 16 June 2010 to enable us to submit our response by the deadline of 24 June 2010.