The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned that plans to move HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) services online could lead to a ‘disastrous decline’ in customer service.
HMRC is reducing the number of customer service staff it employs by nearly a third, in anticipation that more people will use its digital services.
It intends to make most of its processes automated, leaving staff to focus on tackling tax avoidance and evasion.
However, in its annual review of HMRC’s performance, the PAC urged HMRC not to repeat the ‘mistakes it made two years ago’ when it reduced its number of personal tax service staff, which resulted in a significant decline in customer service.
The Committee stated that it is ‘not convinced HMRC has a credible plan to make savings without damaging customer service’, and is calling for ‘urgent action’ to address this.
Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, commented: ‘The public and Parliament rightly have high expectations of HMRC which plays a vital role in national life.
‘It is therefore disconcerting that again we must raise concerns about the authority’s customer service and transparency in the tax system.
‘The lack of a convincing fall-back plan to safeguard service as HMRC undergoes significant change remains a looming threat to its ability to collect tax from individuals simply trying to pay their fair share.’