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Bereavement Service

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In 2012, HMRC gave a commitment to improve our service for bereaved customers. Since then, we have been listening to what customers told us was important to them at a very difficult time and looked at ways to simplify our process. In particular, our customers felt that we should be doing more to:

  • make it easy for them
  • give a prompt and efficient service
  • not ask for information we already hold
  • tell them what to do and when.

In response, here are some of the improvements we have made:

  • We created specialist bereavement teams to act as a single point of contact for post and telephone calls for bereaved PAYE and Self Assessment customers. The bereavement helpline answers over 8,000 calls a month in an average of 9.5 seconds.
  • We made it easier for bereaved customers to authorise someone else to act for them. We now deal with 95% of agent authorisations at the first point of contact, compared to 5% before the change.
  • We have improved our process by focusing on the customer. For example, we now settle the tax affairs of Self Assessment customers in-year, instead of at the end of the tax year, giving bereaved customers certainty more quickly.

As a result of these changes we received 34% fewer complaints about our services for bereaved customers between April and November 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.

One of the main changes was around form R27 ‘Reclaiming tax or paying tax when someone dies’. As we could not deal with about 50% of forms at the first point of contact, it was clear that we placed a heavy burden on the Personal Representative. Also, of the bereavement calls we received:

  • 34% were about filling in the form
  • 15% were to chase progress of the form.

To make it easier for customers to deal with us, we have reduced the amount of information we ask for, by making better use of the data we already hold. Real Time Information now gives us the improved details on pay and tax that we previously needed from bereaved customers – making the form R27 unnecessary.

This month we will remove form R27 and replace it:

  • for PAYE customers – with an automated process that is simple for customers and more efficient for HMRC
  • for Self Assessment customers – with a tailored service, which includes letters that match individual circumstances.

Removing this form means customers will get their tax affairs sorted quickly and lessen the need to contact us - meeting the criteria that customers said was important to them. It will also result in substantial cost reductions for customers, enabling HMRC staff working on R27s to move to other high priority work.

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