The government has responded to an open letter to the Chancellor on HMRC service standards. The letter emphasises that digital services are the key to improved HMRC performance.
On 10 May 2023, Victoria Atkins MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury (FST), responded to the 1 March 2023 open letter from 10 professional bodies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The bodies had asked the chancellor to prioritise investment in HMRC’s service levels in his upcoming Budget statement on 15 March 2023.
No such investment was made. In his presentation at Accountex on 10 May 2023, Jonathan Athow, HMRC Director General Customer Service and Tax Design, stated that the current position is that HMRC is expected to make savings of £700m by 2024/25.
The FST points to the following factors that have affected HMRC performance:
- unexpectedly high volumes of certain types of repayment claims driven by a small number of agents submitting thousands of claims;
- IT issues as HMRC made vital upgrades to improve system security and resilience in the future; and
- some resources being diverted to urgent priorities, such as providing support for Ukraine visa processing.
The FST refers to HMRC investing in digital services between now and 2030. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty notes that the many of the benefits of these digital services will not be seen for some time. In the meantime, agents and taxpayers will continue to experience a poor service.
ICAEW has developed a list of gaps in and problems with HMRC’s digital services which it has shared with HMRC and expects to discuss further.
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