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HMRC ignoring calls, study finds

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According to the government’s own number crunchers, nearly half of the 103 million calls to HMRC went unanswered in 2009. In total, 44 million enquiries didn’t get through.

It compares unfavourably, Sky News points out, with private sector businesses who aim for response rates of at least 90 per cent and for calls to be answered within just 10 rings.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee said the record was "simply not good enough".

"I’m glad that HMRC has recognised that this level of performance is unacceptable and there have been welcome indications of improvement in 2009/10," he added.

According to the figures, the worst period was during July when tax credit renewals were due and just a third of calls were connected.

HMRC runs 31 contact centres filled with the equivalent of more than 10,000 full-time employees, costing the taxpayer a whopping £233m.

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