So, 31 January 2015 marked a significant milestone for HMRC as it was our biggest digital Self Assessment (SA) ever. I was with my team in our ‘Mission Control’ on Friday evening and Saturday watching the returns flowing in, and a host of the numbers I was seeing got me excited. Here’s just a few:
- 8.48million returns were sent online to HMRC by 31 January
- 14 returns were coming in per second during the busiest hour (Friday 30 January between 1 and 2pm)
- 3.5 payments were processed a second during Saturday's deadline day.
But what makes this event stand out, in terms of our digital journey, isn’t just that more of our customers chose to file online. Although that’s fantastic, it’s not the whole story.
Over the last 18 months we’ve been working hard to put in place digital foundations; the key platforms and beta services that we’ll build on in the future. During January we started seeing the real fruits of that work. Over 2 million of our business customers have now signed up for our business tax account, Your Tax Account (YTA), and many of them logged into YTA to file their return. We’ve also invited more than 2 million people to choose digital SA notifications. 1.2 million have opted to stop receiving paper. And we’ve helped customers in lots of new ways. These include:
- Through an SA online chat service
- Through live webinars
- Through YouTube films giving guidance about filing online
- And answering queries on Twitter, which over 7 out of 10 said they’d use again and 40% rated the service 10/10.
The SA deadline also gave us a fantastic opportunity to test GOV.UK Verify. By March 2016, this will become the default way for people to prove their identity. During the trial, 12,500 SA customers registered with GOV.UK Verify, with 11,000 going on to file by the 31 January. These may not seem like huge numbers in comparison to the total volume of returns. However, the feedback we got from people about their experiences gives us rich material to help prepare for a larger-scale rollout across HMRC’s services.
GOV.UK Verify is hugely important to our digital journey in HMRC and I had the chance to speak about this at the Government Digital Service (GDS) SPRINT 15 event on Tuesday, 3 Feburary. GDS, together with a host of colleagues from departments, celebrated digital progress across government. Here are my slides if you’d like to see them.
We have over 40 digital projects currently underway in our two digital centres, and 2015 is certainly going to be an exciting year as we see more new services starting to become available to customers. It really does feel like our digital vision is starting to become a reality!