HM Revenue and Customs
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HMRC delivering in challenging times

HMRC delivering in challenging times

News Release issued by the Government News Network on 20 July 2009

HM Revenue & Customs has supported more businesses and individuals in the past year than ever before, the HMRC Departmental report published today shows.

Last year, HMRC collected almost £440 billion, to fund essential public services. We have responded effectively to the global economic downturn. We are committed to supporting those with genuine difficulties in paying what they owe but as an organisation we are committed to collecting what is due from those who can pay.

The Business Payment support service fast tracked more than 169,000 time to pay arrangements on tax bills totalling around £3 billion in the last eight months. This has important benefits for the economy, it has enabled thousands of businesses to keep trading and employing their staff through this difficult time.

During the year 20 specific campaigns, designed to improve compliance were undertaken, generating £225 million which would otherwise have gone unpaid.

In 2008-09 HMRC maintained high levels of take –up of Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit for the most vulnerable customers, benefiting some 6 million families and 10 million children. Both are ensuring businesses and families get the vital support they need during these difficult times.

Lesley Strathie, Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary to HMRC said:

"This has been and will continue to be a challenging time for our Department. It is a much leaner and more focussed organisation that has achieved this and I am extremely grateful to HMRC’s people for their professionalism and dedication in delivering service to or customers.

Improved and better focussed communications with new Self Assessment (SA) customers have already delivered results with late payments collected now exceeding £1 billion and the approach has been adopted for new corporation tax debt and PAYE debt. This is already starting to produce real results. In 2008-09 the number of people sending us their tax returns on line reached 5.8 million. This equates to over 60% of the SA population. Early indications show this number is set to increase putting HMRC at the forefront of Government e-delivery.”

DETAILS

As the NAO report recognises, current economic circumstances mean that collecting tax and duties is more challenging than ever so we are implementing measures to improve debt management.

We are strengthening our approach to collecting debt, which was rolled out on Self Assessment for this tax year, with more debts cleared more quickly than in the past. Over coming months we will adopt the same approach for all our debt pursuit activity.

HMRC is also expanding capacity to make and receive phone calls in our specialist debt pursuit telephone centre – the most cost effective debt pursuit activity – plans are in place to move some 500 of our people from less cost effective debt pursuit work – based on NAO figures this should increase the capacity of these employees four-fold in the number of contacts they are able to make with debtors.

HMRC is also testing the use of private sector debt collection agencies and piloting the use of innovative contact methods such as voicemail and SMS text messaging

By early 2009 we had implemented or introduced new measures that will deliver administrative savings to business worth some £540 million a year. Four million more businesses will be able to take advantage of our alignment of the ‘Three Line Accounts’ turnover limit with the VAT registration threshold saving them £54 million a year from April 2010.

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