Disappointing changes to HMRC’s Agent Dedicated Line
We highlight changes HMRC is making to the Agent Dedicated Line from 2 October 2023; the ADL will remain available but there will be a reduction in service levels and some calls will be re-routed.
ICAS has called for HMRC to be given adequate resources, to enable it to provide acceptable service levels to taxpayers and agents. Resource constraints within HMRC have been highlighted this year with restrictions being imposed on the Agent Dedicated Line (ADL) in self assessment season and again in April to June, followed by the closure of the self assessment helpline over the summer. While that helpline has reopened, HMRC is now making changes to the ADL to ‘meet the challenges’ it faces.
What are the changes?
From 2 October 2023:
- HMRC will no longer operate to a 10-minute service level on the ADL. Waiting times may vary depending on how many agents are calling at any one time.
- HMRC will introduce information on call waiting times onto the ADL, allowing agents to use this to decide whether to continue to wait in the queue, call back at another time or (if possible) use a digital option instead. However, we understand that the call waiting time information will be based on the previous day’s performance, ie it will not be real-time.
- Some calls may be re-rerouted. For example, PAYE queries may be passed to a PAYE adviser. Once re-routed, agents will need to call the ADL back, if they have another query about a different subject.
Professional bodies had stressed to HMRC that the ADL is very important for agents, so it is helpful that the dedicated line will remain available. We also understand that there are no plans to change other aspects of the ADL – for example, there will be no formal limit on how many queries can be dealt with in one call. However, the reduction in service levels on the ADL is very disappointing.
HMRC has also announced that it is looking at some possible improvements to digital options:
- Exploring the introduction of a webchat facility to the ADL (this is at an early stage).
- Working on further iterative changes on the ADL to improve the efficiency of the service.
- Improving digital services for agents such as Income Record Viewer (IRV), Agent Dashboard and 'Where's my reply' tool, so more agents will use them, rather than calling HMRC.
We would like to see HMRC go much further in providing good digital options for agents – and in improving the digital handshake process required to authorise agents (which can sometimes be an obstacle to using services like the IRV).
Let us know your experience with the ADL after 2 October
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how the changes affect your experience of using the ADL from 2 October. We will be giving input to HMRC on any issues arising.
More generally, ICAS responds to many tax calls for evidence and consultations, as well as producing tax policy papers and reports. We also regularly attend meetings with HMRC at which service levels, delays and other issues are discussed, and we raise problems being encountered by members. We welcome input from members to inform our work; email us to share your insights and feedback.