I start with a story recently told to me by someone who worked in a very busy Accountant's office. He started by saying that (one of his staff) had been on the phone for over an hour. He asked one of her colleagues if she knew the reason, and was told. "Oh that's obvious. She's trying to get through to HM Revenue and Customs !! "
This would be a joke, if it wasn't so serious, and indeed if I hadn't experienced the same problem on a number of different occasions.!
The standard of customer service by many public/large organisations, such as described above, unfortunately appears now to be the norm and I am sure everyone will have their own stories to tell. It is simply unacceptable! Businesses in the SME sector would quickly cease to trade if they were to give such an appalling level of customer service. It is all very well to tell customers "to do it on line". I do not believe this to be safe, as I have recently found out. Moreover, there are quite a number of issues-(mostly as a result of the continually increasing complexities of the tax system),- that can only be resolved by speaking to a member of HM Revenue and Customs staff. Why is it made so difficult for their CUSTOMERS to make personal contact? Also, why are MPs unwilling to do anything about it? It used to be that the Inland Revenue were scared of MPs involvement. Changed days !!
One much more drastic but common sense solution to the above, is for some brave Chancellor of the Exchequer (!!!!) to bring an axe down on the increasing and unnecessarily complicated tax system and start from scratch. An excellent starting point is A FLAT RATE TAX applying to everyone. It would greatly simplify matters, and produce a much higher tax yield. HM Revenue staff numbers could be cut, and there would be a marked reduction in dodgy tax schemes , for which there would no longer be any incentive.
Unfortunately, the above suggestion is too much like COMMON SENSE, especially to the Scottish Parliament whose additional tax bands have resulted in yet more complications.