HMRC has announced further plans in its modernisation programme to improve service quality and creation of 13 new regional centres over the next five years.
The modernisation programme, currently at the halfway point, includes new online services, data analytics and skills to improve the process for individuals paying their taxes. Digital infrastructure and training facilities will also increase workforce quality, revenue and improve customer services.
170 local offices will close down and be replaced with 13 regional centres by 2027.
The first new centre will open in 2016-17, with others following between 2017 and 2021. The new centres will be in the following regions:
- North East – Newcastle
- North West – Manchester and Liverpool
- Yorkshire – Leeds
- East Midlands – Nottingham
- West Midlands – Birmingham
- Wales – Cardiff
- Northern Ireland – Belfast
- Scotland – Glasgow and Edinburgh
- South West – Bristol
- South East – London.
HMRC’s announcement follows from recent criticism on its customer service by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The committee highlighted that the tax authority’s customer service was ‘unacceptable’, harming its ability to collect taxes.
John Allan, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“This should be used by HMRC as an opportunity to deliver services that are easy to access, provide clear and consistent help tailored for smaller businesses, and delivers the certainty they need for their tax affairs.”
Stephen Herring, head of taxation at the Institute of Directors, said:
“Automation, digitisation and the roll-out of online filing have been huge steps forward in the way businesses and individuals pay their tax.
“It is encouraging to see a focus on adopting new techniques so they can raise revenues without, we hope, hitting service levels.”