HMRC signs outsourced letter handling contract

HMRC has signed a contract with personalised customer communication services provider Communisis to handle outbound taxpayer letters, as part of a move to streamline operation ahead of the move to digital working

HMRC currently issues in the region of 185m letters each year. The department’s performance in relation to customer service levels for its phone contact centres and letter handling has come under sustained criticism from the National Audit Office (NAO) and the public accounts committee over the past 18 months.

In its most recent report, the NAO said that HMRC had original forecast in 2010 that by March 2015, HMRC customers could expect it would answer 90% of telephone calls and deal with 80% of letters within 15 working days. In 2011, it secured additional funding to bring forward the target date to 2013-14. Over the last five years, HMRC has changed these targets to take into account its past performance and reductions in the resources available, but has had considerable difficulty in meeting them consistently.

The term of the new outsourced contract for letter handling is five years, consisting of an initial three years with the option of a further two year extension. Preparatory work has already started as Communisis progresses toward a go-live date in mid-2017, and the contract also includes the deployment of document composition technology.

Communisis has a track record of delivering transformation projects of this scale for major organisations including utility companies, banks and insurers.

Andy Blundell, Communisis chief executive, said: ‘We are very pleased to have been awarded this landmark contract from HMRC.  Communisis offered an optimum technology solution, displaying the best understanding of the business requirements. We are excited to be starting this new relationship, in support of HMRC's "digital by default" agenda.’

An HMRC spokesperson said: ‘The current contracts come an end in June 2017. The new contract is designed to support the transition of much of our output to digital channels, as well as providing a quality print service for those who wish to continue to receive paper.’

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