According to Publicservice.co.uk, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has indicated that it is not ready to shut down traditional forms of communication in favour of online services. A mandate from central government has called for traditional services to be removed as alternatives become available online. However, HMRC insists that to support all customers, traditional methods like contact centres are still required.
Although the contact centres of HMRC have received a £34 million boost to hire around 1000 new staff, that is no guarantee that they will remain open indefinitely. However, instructions have been received to provide public services as ‘digital by default’ to save money. During June’s launch of the Civil Service Reform Plan, Francis Maude, of the Cabinet Office, stated that any services which it was possible to deliver online “should be delivered only online”. Although it costs more to operate a call centre than online services, HMRC is not ready to shut down more traditional methods of communication.
A spokesperson for HMRC said that people who do not have broadband access or elderly people who relied on the phone services need the contact centres to stay open. The spokesperson also said that HMRC was “committed to offering more online services” but would also work towards a more responsive HMRC with more calls to the centre being answered in a timely manner. Although there are more services available online, including online accounting which is a cheaper option, a number of people still rely on traditional methods of communication for their public services.