Some 44 million calls were left unanswered by staff at HM Revenue and Customs in the year 2008-9, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has revealed.
Despite spending £233m on employing 10,500 members of full-time staff, some 43% of calls were never answered. The National Audit Office branded the Government department’s performance as ‘unacceptable’.
Just one in three calls were answered during the busiest periods such as the tax credit renewals in July and of those customers who did get through many had to wait up to four minutes during peak times to speak to anyone.
In a statement for Payroll World, an HMRC spokeswoman said: ‘Our contact centres received 103 million call attempts in 2008/2009 – our challenge is that many of these come in very big peaks around the key tax deadlines.
‘The report recognises HMRC has significantly improved its contact centre performance in 2009/2010 – [answering 73% of calls in the first half of the year compared to last year’s 48%].’
The spokeswoman did concede that ‘we need to improve even more’.
The latest figures for the first half of 2009/10 indicated some improvement, but the National Audit Office said that more than 27% of calls were still not getting a reply.
The industry standard in the private sector for answering calls was 90%.