LITRG welcomes new helplines for Child Benefit, Guardian’s Allowance, Employers and Online Services Helpdesk
LITRG has campaigned for many years for HMRC to offer telephone helplines that do not result in disproportionate charges for the most vulnerable in society. We welcome HMRC’s announcement that all four helplines will change to 0300 numbers with immediate effect. These changes follow the introduction of a 0345 helpline for tax credits in 2011. We will continue to press for similar changes to HMRC’s other helplines.
The combination of 0845 numbers, long waiting times and pay as you go (PAYG) mobiles (often used by people on low incomes) can mean that calling HMRC can be disproportionately costly for claimants and taxpayers. Given that claimants are obliged to telephone HMRC to report important events that can affect their claim, this makes the costs unavoidable.
LITRG looked at how much it costs to ring HMRC on 0845 numbers in 2006, and welcomed a consultation by the telephone regulator Ofcom in 2011. This consultation document recommended the use of 0345 numbers over their 0845 counterparts and therefore offered an opportunity to HMRC to adopt a fairer telephone policy and to help their most vulnerable claimants. This was soon followed by the introduction of an 0345 number for the tax credits helpline.
HMRC have announced that with effect from 16 April the new number for the Child Benefit helpline is 0300 200 3100; the new number for the Guardian’s Allowance helpline is 0300 200 3101. There is one new textphone number for both Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance claimants: 0300 200 3103.
The following helplines will be available from 23 April:
- Online Services Helpdesk - 030 0200 3600;
- Billpay Plus - 0300 200 3601;
- Employer Helpline - 0300 200 3200;
- New Employer Helpline - 0300 200 3211.
The associated textphone numbers are:
- Online Services Helpdesk - 0300 200 3603;
- Employer Helpline - 0300 200 3212.
The old 0845 numbers will be available for approximately 18 months.
The provision of 0300 numbers is expected to result in significant cost savings for the majority of callers to the lines. Callers will only pay the same amount as a landline call to a 01 or a 02 number and the price is the same for calls from mobiles. 0300 numbers are generally included in any discount schemes or inclusive call minutes that claimants may already have with landline or mobile phone operators.
We hope that further announcements will be made in due course for other HMRC helplines, such as the Taxes Helpline.
Contact: Robin Williamson (please use form at http://www.litrg.org.uk/ContactUs)