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National Audit Office examines HMRC ‘customer service performance’

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The National Audit Office will report ‘in winter 2012’ on the service that HMRC’s ‘customers’ receive over the telephone, online and in writing.

The NAO will examine the extent to which HMRC understands and meets customers’ needs and expectations; its customer service strategy; and how HMRC plans to change its business in order to ‘improve customer service with fewer staff’.

A note of work in progress, published by the NAO at the weekend, comes a few days after HMRC announced that it was to invest £34m in recruiting up to 1,000 additional call centre staff. Lin Homer, HMRC Chief Executive, said she was ‘reprioritising our resources to make this additional investment possible’.

But the spending watchdog had indicated in June that it was examining HMRC’s commitment to improve customer service.

In its report on HMRC’s 2011/12 accounts, published on 28 June, the NAO said it was currently examining four subject areas: ‘Three of these look at the three principal commitments under the department’s change programme. These are to improve customer service, to reduce its operating costs and to re-invest money from its efficiency savings to generate increased tax revenue. The fourth will further analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the department’s actions to reduce tax credits error and fraud ...’

That report outlined five earlier NAO reports focusing on ‘issues that are key to the department’s ability to operate with reduced resources’.