Customs Performance “could do better”


Clearlight Newsflash

Customs in the spot light

The Public Accounts Committee have published a report on the performance and transformation efforts of HM Revenue & Customs and if it was a school report it would it would score “C+ could do much better, see me after class”

There are 15 major transformation projects underway and Customs resources are clearly stretched. The Committee is concerned that HMRC will not be able to serve taxpayers to the levels required and they highlight a number of areas of concern.

Quick Summary: 7 key findings

  1. The “Paradise” and “Panama” papers leaks highlighted substantial tax evasion issues and HMRC have yet to receive copies of the papers. 66 cases have been investigated but the Committee is concerned that HMRC will not have the resources to investigate the full extent of the papers once they receive the relevant data.
  2. HMRC are closing the tax-gap (down to 6% / £34bn) however they cannot realistically state a target for the reduction. Further gains and continued closure of the gap will most likely come from SMEs requiring more resource for lesser return.
  3. The overall transformation programme cannot be delivered due to unrealistic assumptions and additional work caused by Brexit.
  4. HMRC is part way through re-organising its real-estate and moving to large regional centres. The committee feels HMRC have agreed too many 25-year leases on new premises without break-clauses. The Committee is concerned about the lack of flexibility for future changing business and taxpayer practices.
  5. Concern that HMRC can continue the recent improvements in customer service particularly for less digital-savvy and vulnerable tax payers.
  6. Measures of average speed of answer at call centres are not representative of true wait times for tax payers due to the way HMRC calculate the measure.
  7. Error and fraud rates for tax-credits are too high. Currently the target is 5% , in 2017 it was 5.5% and is likely to rise to 8%.

The full report can be read here:


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