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HMRC to ‘scrap costly 0845 phone lines’

 

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is planning to axe its premium rate 0845 phone numbers later this year, it has been revealed.

 

Currently, taxpayers can pay 41p per minute when contacting HMRC, and with some individuals left waiting for more than 10 minutes, the final bill can be costly.

 

Chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge MP, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that a public service uses 0845 numbers.

 

As a result, 0845 helplines will now be switched to a cheaper alternative.

 

Speaking before the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Ruth Owen, Director General, Personal Tax, HMRC, said: ‘We will start to move away from 0845 numbers. We will introduce an 03 prefix number from April for people calling the Child Benefit line.’

 

‘We are renegotiating the contract now but we are going to move ahead of that because that renegotiation will take some time,’ she added.

 

According to HMRC, all customer calls will be switched to the 03 prefix by the ‘end of the summer’.

 

A recent report by the National Audit Office found that unanswered calls and lengthy waiting times cost customers £33m in call charges.