The taxman has been employing twice as many private sector debt collectors over the past two years as it steps up its attempts to claim owed tax.

This has come at a pretty hefty cost to HMRC with them spending £14.8m on private sector debt collectors in 2013, a 15% rise from 2012 and more than twice than in 2011 when just £6m was spent.

Despite this rise in spending, the Chancellor, George Osborne, has still had to rely on “dodgy statistics” to give a better impression of HMRC’s tax recovery efforts.

There are also concerns that use the use of private debt collectors will lead to the use of aggressive methods to get the taxman’s money back. With HMRC often making mistakes, this isn’t an enticing prospect.

Mark Giddens from UHY Hacker Young said: “Bailiffs do not have the best of reputations and many taxpayers are going to be very alarmed when a debt collector is brought in.

“Most taxpayers who are behind with their payments are in that situation because they simply can’t afford to pay their tax – not because they intend to string HMRC along.”

HMRC have been giving themselves much harsher targets in recent years in order to help bring down the deficit. This comes as the taxman has new powers to access people’s bank accounts without external checks, which have been attacked by many critics.

HMRC first used debt collection agencies in 2009. They currently make use of a total of 13 of these service providers.

Photo by Alexa LaSpisa