Seven months after apologising to MPs, HMRC is now boasting of a "significant recovery" in its call-handling services

Mark Sands
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HMRC's bosses claim that they have overseen a marked improvement in its telephone services after it was blasted by MPs last year. (Source: Getty)

HMRC has stressed a dramatic improvement in its call handling processes, with 90 per cent of calls answered, and the average call answered inside of six minutes.

Speaking to MPs at the Public Accounts Committee earlier today, HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson, said that the performance represented “a significant recovery”.

Last year, HMRC was slammed by a Which? Report, finding that callers would wait an average of 38 minutes to speak to a person after dialling HMRC, with then chief executive Dame Lin Homer apologising to MPs on the Treasury Committee in November.

Read More: HMRC to man phones in the evening

At the time, the UK tax office said that it had already made changes, and was answering 80 per cent of calls, with average queue times of 10 minutes.

Thompson, who replaced Homer at the helm of the organisation in February, said that while the average for 2015-16 remained 72 per cent of calls answered, this ignored substantial improvement in the final months of the year.

However, he nonetheless admitted: “It absolutely needs to be better, and we will make it better.”

Separately, HMRC added that a new task force set up to investigate the Panama Papers leaks will not report back to the government until the end of 2016.

Read More: Panama Papers: Iceland's Prime Minister resigns following public outcry

An April press release announcing the task force said it would report back to the chancellor and the House of Commons “later this year”.

However, enforcement director general Jennie Grainger said the group, which brings together experts from the HMRC, the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority, has been active for nine weeks, and would report back “at the end of this calendar year”.

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