Interview: HMRC, Digital Technology Leaders Awards finalist

clock • 3 min read
Lee Hawksworth, Deputy Director, Chief Digital Product Office, HMRC
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Lee Hawksworth, Deputy Director, Chief Digital Product Office, HMRC

"We're putting customer experience at the heart of our work to deliver great digital services that make it simpler and easier for customers to get their tax right."

Digital technologies possess the potential to foster a more inclusive and sustainable growth trajectory by igniting innovation, driving efficiencies, and enhancing services.

The Digital Technology Leaders Awards occupy a special place among Computing events. Rather than platforms and tools, this event is dedicated to the companies and workers driving technology forwards at the leading edge of IT.

This year, we will announce the winners at a live ceremony on Thursday 6th July in Central London.

One of those finalists is HMRC, which has reached the shortlist for two categories: Mobile Project of the Year and Most Successful Environmental Project.

We talked to Lee Hawksworth, a deputy director in HMRC's Chief Digital Product Office, to find out how their organisation has used IT for success.

Lee leads HMRC's Digital Engagement and Digital Services including the Personal Tax Account, Business Tax Account, Mobile App and Digital Assistant and Webchat. Lee is putting digital services at the heart of HMRC's vision to be a trusted, modern tax and customs system. Lee has overseen a wide programme of new and optimised digital services with significant user growth, typified by the 48% growth in HMRC's app in the last 12 months. Away from this Lee spends time with his wife, two football crazy boys and basset hound Slinky.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers. What makes you different from other companies?

Lee Hawksworth:  HMRC is your tax service - we collect the money that pays for the UK's public services and give financial support to people.

Our vision is to run a trusted, modern tax and customs system - one that fits with how taxpayers run their lives and businesses, keeps the tax gap low, and helps to create the right conditions for UK economic growth.

We're putting customer experience at the heart of our work to deliver great digital services that make it simpler and easier for customers to get their tax right - at a time and place convenient to them.

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

We've put developing our app at the centre of our strategy and we've seen the monthly number of users double in the last year - to more than a million each month.

We were the first government department anywhere in the world to enable open banking payments to be made using the HMRC app, which allows customers to securely connect to their bank and pay their tax with just a few taps.

The team overcame complex IT infrastructure, security and policy challenges to deliver this service in February.

What are you working on this year?

Later this year, we'll be continuing to improve the digital experience for our customers through an improved online account designed around taxpayer tasks and needs, including enhancing the HMRC app.

We've already added new services; for example, Child Benefit claimants can now make claims online using our new digital claims service, as well as viewing claim details and their proof of entitlement in the app, whenever they need it.

We're adding more features and services regularly to improve the customer experience, including making it easier for customers to change their personal details and store their National Insurance Number in their Apple and Google Wallets.

Why are events like the Digital Technology Leaders Awards important to the IT industry?

We're finalists in two categories this year - 'Mobile Project of the Year' and 'Most Successful Environmental Project', which is really exciting.

Events like this showcase the very best in innovation in technology across the public and private sector and are always a source of inspiration to us.

We're proud of how the app is being embraced by our customers and that it's being recognised by the wider IT industry too.

We've focused on building services that are sustainable and help reduce our carbon footprint, so being recognised for our Plastic Packaging Tax digital service is hugely rewarding.

Digital Technology Leaders Awards will take place on 6th July in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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