HMRC staff will be permanently redeployed away from the self-assessment helplines, it has been confirmed, resulting in more blackout periods. Here’s the full update:

HMRC’s reduction in frontline services will continue, following several trials conducted in 2023 where staff were temporarily reassigned to help with clearing pandemic-related backlogs.

Which Helplines will HMRC cut?

These moves were met with criticism, as many individuals felt unable to file their returns without the ability to seek assistance for technical queries. Today, the government has announced the implementation of permanent closure periods moving forward, citing last year’s trial as “successful”. And it’s not just the self-assessment helpline that will be impacted this year:

  • Between April and September, the Self-Assessment helpline will be closed, with customers directed to utilise HMRC’s online services for self-service.
  • From October to March, the Self-Assessment helpline will be operational to address priority queries. Customers with queries that can be resolved quickly and easily online will be directed to HMRC’s online services.
  • The VAT helpline will be available for five days each month prior to the VAT return filing deadline. Outside of these times, customers will be directed to use HMRC’s online services.
  • The PAYE helpline will no longer accept calls from customers regarding refunds, with customers directed to use HMRC’s online services instead.

In our view, this will pose significant challenges to accountants, individuals filing their returns and businesses looking to ensure they are acting correctly. As always, we will be here to support you and your business interests. If you have concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.