Closing the enquiry centres: part four

April 16, 2013

There’s a nice flowchart in chapter 5 (on page 10) of the consultation into what will replace the closed enquiry centres.  There are different coloured pathways, each ending in a smiley face and a comment like “resolved online”  or “resolved by HMRC contact centre”

My google-fu isn’t sufficient to reproduce it here but, please, go to the consultation and have a look at it.  See that big box in the middle, the one that nearly all the pathways lead through?  The one that says:

HMRC Contact Centre

Straightforward queries are solved on the spot by expert advisers in HMRC’s contact centres

Customers needing extra support are referred to the new HMRC specialist support team

Where does that leave the rest of us?  You know, those of us who ring the contact centre with queries that aren’t “straightforward”, but we aren’t deemed “needy” enough to qualify for the “extra support” of the new HMRC specialist support team?

The flow chart is silent.  There’s no arrow leading us out of this binary box.  Either our queries need to be “straightforward” enough that the contact centre can answer them, or we need to be “needy” enough to qualify for “extra” support.  There’s no third way, no provision for an ordinary taxpayer with an out of the ordinary problem.  We can bounce around inside the big box and never reach a smiley face at the end of the pathway.



  1. What makes you think there is such a third category?

    So far as I can tell, “needs extra support” and “not straightforward” are synonymous. See page 5 of the condoc: “complexity of the enquiry” is a reason for needing extra help.

    So the provision for an ordinary taxpayer with an out of the ordinary problem is that they get referred to the specialist support team, in the way that extraordinary taxpayers with ordinary problems do.


    • If you are confident that a query that the helpline can’t resolve will be directed to the specialist support team, all well and good. I don’t see it: otherwise why would the department want to make an assessment of your “need” at all? It would be an automatic escalation, surely?

  2. They’d need to assess your need to work out whether you need to be directed to someone technical, or someone who can speak your language, or someone used to dealing with people in fragile emotional states, or whatever.

    To me it looks like automatic escalation, after an assessment of where you should be escalated to. Which may be someone outside HMRC, if they can help you better.

    There does seem to be an emphasis on people with special needs, rather than people with complex questions, but I think that’s just because complex questions require a fairly simple response: pass it to the technical team relating to the tax in question. People with special needs vary more, and so the systems need to be more complex – thus they loom larger in the condoc.

  3. […] closes on 24th May and I’ve already blogged about it here, here and here.  Oh, and here.  Not to mention here.) I should also check out what other tax consultations are around and plan […]

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