HMRC have shared the following updates regarding webchat and a new dashboard with us which we would like to share with members.
"We are pausing most of our webchat for three months from Tuesday 4 January 2022. We’ll use this pause to fully review our services to make sure we are helping our customers in the most effective way possible.
"Webchat is effective when we use it to answer simple queries, which supports customers to use our digital services.
"Supporting customers with complex queries has proven to be inefficient - for example supporting PAYE, customers with coding queries takes 84% longer via webchat than it does over the phone. Other examples include payments in Child Benefit and Registrations in VAT both taking around 50% longer.
"Webchat is most effective when we use it to educate and coach customers in using our digital tools, and we know that this is what we need to build on. We’ll use this pause to fully review our services to make sure we are helping our customers in the most effective way possible.
"The following lines will remain open:
- Online Services Helpdesk
- Self Assessment
- National Clearance Hub
- Imports and Exports
- Debt Management
- Extra Support
- Support for pandemic-related activity will continue."
"We are developing a dashboard to give tax agents a high-level overview of our service status. We will launch this in mid-January and we will give you more detail in the new year."
While members may well be disappointed about the news that webchat is being withdrawn, we hope that the new dashboard which is due to be launched in mid-January will prove useful. We and other bodies have been in discussions with HMRC about service standards over recent months and we have been pressing HMRC for more transparency over delays and backlogs. We welcome the promise of the new dashboard and hope that it will enable agents to have a better oversight of the processing times for a number of key services and will share further information with members in the New Year.
While we acknowledge that a dashboard in and of itself doesn't address performance problems, we hope that this increased transparency will enable agents to manage client expectations during the period while HMRC undertakes their recovery work.