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Postal delays

11 October 2007
Categories: News , VAT
Through Working Together, HMRC have been working with agent representative bodies on concerns about delays with post, VAT registration and 64-8 agent authorisation

No, not the post office strike, but something, perhaps more constant than that, this concerns HMRC delays in dealing with post.

Through Working Together, HMRC have been working with agent representative bodies on concerns about delays with post, VAT registration and 64-8 agent authorisation. The following extracts are taken from the latest position, as published on What's new of HMRC's website.

HMRC 'apologise for the inconvenience and difficulty that we know delays are causing for you and your clients. Providing good service is a top priority and we are taking steps to improve the situation as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please try to avoid contacting us to check on progress unless the matter is urgent as this may further extend processing times. Thank you for your co-operation'.


With regard to post, HMRC want to provide 'a prompt response, balancing different priorities at different times of year'. HMRC say that they 'share' agents' concerns about delays that have occurred this year, but they expect improvements to feed through over the latter half of this year.

Referring to the Lean programme (see Related Links above), HMRC say that they have made 'significant investment in new ways of working that will, when truly embedded, result in a service that exceeds our previous performance both in terms of response times and accuracy of working. These have been introduced with the support of experts in process improvement from the private sector and we are confident they will deliver the service we and you want'.

'Part of this new way of working is that we are trying to ensure that all customers receive a consistent service on a "first in/first out" basis, rather than some having to wait much longer than others for a response to their enquiry, and that quality is consistently high. But any new process will have costs associated with change and that is what we are seeing in some of our offices at the moment. We believe that position will improve over time as the fruits of our investment pay off.

'Some offices have adapted to the new ways of working better than others and some are further through the system than others, so they have refined their planning and approach to the new process. That is why performance is currently variable across our offices.

'In many offices we are already seeing high levels of performance; others have some way to go. We are addressing that urgently; our aim is to provide a consistent performance across HMRC and we monitor offices on an ongoing basis and, where necessary, support offices which appear to be in greater difficulty than others.'

VAT registration

HMRC receive over 285,000 VAT registration applications each year and have a target of clearing complete and low-risk applications in 14 days, but unfortunately, as most advisers will know, it is currently taking longer than this in most cases.

Once again HMRC refer to current factors which are affecting the processing of VAT registration forms, i.e. missing trader intra-community and other serious fraud, the consolidation of VAT registration work into two sites at Wolverhampton and Grimsby, increased applications following the Budget 2007 announcements on managed service companies, and their own IT issues.

HMRC say that they are recruiting additional staff at Wolverhampton, and devoting more existing staff to registration activity. They 'have stabilised the IT issues, and will make further improvements over coming months'.

Forms 64-8

Last year the central agent authorisation team received and processed around 1.5 million forms 64-8. Since April this year the number of agent authorisations has continued to increase and it is expecting to deal with 1.7 million in 2007-08. HMRC recognise the urgent need to process agent authorisation forms as quickly as possible and nearly 90 additional staff were trained and deployed to address the backlog of forms that had built up.

HMRC report that the central agent authorisation team is able to process forms 64-8 within six days of receipt.

Apart from a few exceptions, forms 64-8 should be sent directly to HMRC, CAA Team, Longbenton, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE98 1ZZ. HMRC say that currently only 17% of agent authorisations are made using HMRC's online service. They list the key benefits of using the service as:

  • faster processing of authorisations with automatic updates of self assessment and corporation tax systems;
  • reduction in errors, particularly in correct allocation of clients to relevant agent record;
  • improved audit trail and visibility of the authorisation process to the agent;
  • ability to set up authorisations at a service specific level;
  • management of authorised client lists and the ability to deregister clients for whom they no longer act.
Categories: News , VAT
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