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HMRC apologises for ‘poor performance’

HMRC has apologised to taxpayers after a new report exposed a raft of problems with its services.

The chairman of HMRC, Mike Clasper, admitted that the Revenue was ‘not happy’ with its performance in 2010, adding that it had been ‘overwhelmed for a period of time’.

It follows a report by the Treasury Select Committee which highlighted numerous problems with the department, including ‘endemic’ delays in answering letters and failing to answer phone calls.

‘[Our performance] simply wasn't good enough on post and telephone and I'd like to take the opportunity to apologise to the people who had to take a long time to get through, or we didn't get back to them quick enough with the post,’ said Clasper.

He continued: ‘In 2011 we've been working very very hard to improve things. We're handling the calls immediately much more frequently than we did in 2010 and as far as individual customers are concerned you know the post levels have dropped in half.’

The MPs’ report blamed bad management, excessive job cuts, demoralised staff and increasingly complex tax laws for HMRC’s unsatisfactory level of service.

‘The evidence we have received in this inquiry has been disturbing,’ commented MPs.

‘HMRC's delivery of services to the general public has fallen to unacceptable levels in several areas.

‘We are concerned that HMRC's performance will continue to deteriorate if further reductions in resources are badly managed.’

HMRC said it has now recruited an additional 1,000 contact centre advisers to handle calls during ‘exceptionally busy periods’.