The National Audit Office has issued a report which looks at the progress made by the online filing system since 2006. Although NAO acknowledge that considerable savings have been made using the system, improvements need to be made regarding the understanding of benefits and costs in order to maximise them.
The savings have been labelled significant, but still fall short of the original target of £145 million by the end of tax year 2010-11. As funding problems emerged, the programme was modified to reflect the changes. In addition to improving online services, and meeting the targets HMRC have Real Time Information and the stabilisation of PAYE to deal with. Improving telephone contact for customers and reducing levels of customer correspondence are also priorities for HMRC.
The report is favourable towards operational performance, saying that the online system coped well with peak filing times, However, delays for customers receiving log in details and passwords have caused problems which had an effect on customers trying to access the Self Assessment system at busy times. The website fort HMRC fails to meet standards for accessibility, and the quality of assistance received from help desks differs. The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse said:
“HMRC’s expansion of online filing has been a real achievement. The programme is largely complete, to time and budget, and more than 11m customers are filing online. It is an integral part of the department’s drive to increase efficiency. However, HMRC cannot demonstrate that the benefits are being maximised. Significant improvement is needed in its understanding of costs and benefits to inform future development.”
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