An accountant is urging HMRC to invest in its staff and infrastructure after it went back on its plans to close helplines for six months out of the year.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed last week that it planned to close its telephone helplines from April through to September, before dropping the plans.

The tax authority made the u-turn after widespread criticism from finance professionals, businesses and MPs.

One of the professionals who criticised the plans was accountant Colin Bielckus, who runs The Outsourced Finance Director in Whitely, Hampshire.


He believed that closing the phone lines would not only place a huge amount of pressure on accountants, but also businesses and individuals who were unable to solve their queries online.

He said: “The online system is not yet fit for purpose so it’s unreasonable to rely almost solely on this for six months out of the year. It already felt like HMRC were cutting corners and this move has proved that.”

Colin believes that rather than cutting costs and pulling back, the organisation should invest and improve its services across the board, saying: “What HMRC needs to do is improve its infrastructure, staff and systems so that people can actually speak to someone who is qualified in the query they are given, rather than just an agent with little finance experience.

“While change is needed and digital services are definitely important, this was a bad decision. It’s mind-blowing to me that they would even consider stopping a service that is already under so much strain. It seems that all common sense went out of the window when that decision was made.”

The u-turn was also welcomed by the Treasury Committee, who said: “While we do not oppose expansion of digital services for those who want to use them, we remain entirely unconvinced that HMRC is adequately prepared to impose such a significant change in how it serves taxpayers.

“Planned changes to the operation of HMRC’s phone lines have been mismanaged from the beginning. Questions still remain over the extent to which the department are prioritising its own needs over those of law-abiding and vulnerable taxpayers.”