Campaigners welcome HMRC promise of face-to-face visits for taxpayers who need help - LITRG press release
The LITRG has given a cautious welcome to today’s announcement by HMRC that a ‘new, flexible support service’ will be introduced for those who need it, based around a more specialised phone service and mobile face-to-face visits.
HMRC have launched a consultation on the new service, which will run until 24 May. Results will be published by the end of July.
HMRC will also be launching a five-month pilot in the North East of England to test these new services. This will run from 3 June until 31 October. The new service is intended to replace the Enquiry Centre network. The pilot will involve the closure of Enquiry Centres at Alnwick, Bishop Auckland, Bridlington, Hexham, Darlington, Durham, Middlesbrough, Morpeth, Newcastle, Scarborough, Stockton, Sunderland and York. If successful, HMRC have said they will implement this new service across the UK between February and May 2014 and close the remaining Enquiry Centres.
LITRG’s Chairman, Anthony Thomas, commented:
“We welcome the aims of the North East pilot to provide a much better service to those who need more help than the telephone and internet channels currently provide. Unrepresented taxpayers and tax credit claimants on low incomes or those with particular needs should benefit from an improved service.
“It is crucial that HMRC work closely with the voluntary sector throughout the duration of the pilot and beyond in order to ensure that an excellent service is delivered to those who are in need of help. This new service envisages a very significant increase in the voluntary sector workload and without proper funding and resource taxpayers could be seriously disadvantaged.
“Of course I would have preferred a longer pilot to adequately assess the outcome against targets with evidence to support the direction of the pilot, but HMRC have extended it to cover the self assessment paper filing deadline of 31 October 2013 and agreed a full twelve month evaluation period. This is eminently sensible and should avoid potentially vulnerable taxpayers dropping through the net.
“HMRC will not be surprised that we shall be monitoring the new service very closely indeed to ensure the services are freely available and easily accessed by all who need help.”
The consultation document can be found here.
Contact: Robin Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)