650K HMRC calls abandoned in February

Apr 16, 2024

In February, 2.9 million people tried to reach HMRC by phone, down from 3.6m in January during the busy self-assessment period. Despite this decrease, only 1.3m callers managed to speak with an adviser, and 656,622 calls were abandoned. Automated systems handled nearly a million calls, fewer than the 1.34m in January.

Recently, HMRC has been encouraging the use of its digital channels. Its web chat service was used 130,000 times in February, a significant increase from 51,000 uses in April 2023. Over the year, the web chat was used 1,156,146 times, representing 3.45% of all contacts, a substantial rise from 469,182 in the previous year.

However, phone contact remains popular, with 33.48m calls received from April 2023 to March 2024, vastly outweighing the webchat figures. A third of these calls were managed by automated systems.

Average waiting times improved slightly to 24 minutes and 13 seconds in February from January's 25-minute wait, with the annual average at 22 minutes and 50 seconds.

Taxpayer satisfaction slightly declined in February to 78.6%, still an improvement from April 2023's low of 76.4%. Following criticism from accountants, HMRC retracted its plan to close self-assessment phone lines for six months.

HMRC suggests that contacting its support via social media may be quicker.

CIOT president, Gary Ashford, said:

"HMRC's digital services are still far from fully functional, and the answers can still be difficult or impossible to find online."

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