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Revenue and Customs: Telephone Services

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average waiting time for a caller to each of HM Revenue and Customs 0845 telephone numbers was in each of the last 12 months; how much the average call to such an 0845 number cost the caller in each of those months; and how many callers received a recorded message telling them to call back later after having been put on hold in each of those months. (280653)

[holding answer 18 June 2009]: HMRC has in excess of 200 different 0845 numbers and cannot therefore provide waiting times for each of these numbers. The majority of calls to HMRC are centrally managed through contact centres and the performance data for these calls are aggregated by each tax/head of duty. In the last 12 months, customers calling the main lines of business waited, on average, the following minutes and seconds before their call was answered by an adviser.

20082009

Average waiting time

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Child Benefit

03:24

03:34

03:44

04:51

04:15

03:33

02:16

01:53

00:09

00:07

00:28

01:21

National Insurance

01:20

02:06

02:04

00:34

00:50

00:31

00:16

01:12

00:36

00:45

00:55

01:13

Online Services Helpdesk

00:09

00:11

00:10

00:28

01:30

00:30

00:09

02:54

01:25

02:09

02:44

01:37

Stamp Taxes

00:20

00:33

00:17

00:06

00:11

00:10

00:11

00:04

00:04

00:05

00:17

00:20

Tax Credits

04:12

04:36

01:18

01:48

00:38

00:18

00:15

01:37

00:25

00:16

00:59

01:33

Taxes (PAYE)

02:42

04:06

02:12

01:47

00:38

00:26

00:36

03:14

01:35

01:49

01:48

03:12

Taxes Helplines

00:35

01:17

00:34

00:25

00:13

00:10

00:13

01:36

00:22

00:22

01:33

02:57

VAT

00:18

00:23

00:37

00:18

00:14

00:25

00:17

00:14

00:19

00:33

00:58

01:13

Call charges to customers are dependent on the tariff arrangements they have with their service provider, the device they use for the call and the location from which they call.

Callers to HMRC either enter the queuing system or, if the queue is full, are played a busy message. The vast majority of callers enter the queue through an initial interactive voice recognition (IVR) service. Some IVR options will advise customers to call back later if HMRC expects to be particularly busy, for example during a peak period. It is not possible to identify the number of callers who receive this specific type of recorded message.