Talking about the Tax Credit Fiasco on the Daily Politics

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On Friday I appeared live on the Daily Politics talking to Andrew Neil about the ongoing tax credit fiasco caused by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and their private contractor Concentrix.

Since the end of August I have heard from many single parents who have had their tax credits stopped with little to no explanation from HMRC.

HMRC contracted Concentrix to investigate the majority of these cases. The contract incentivised Concentrix to reduce fraud and error and then provided information purporting to assist them with finding it.

However, HMRC provided Concentrix with a wide range of inaccurate information obtained from other databases, such as those held by credit reference agencies. This has led to people being accused of having an undeclared partner who turns out to be someone who used to live at the address and whom the recipient doesn’t even know.

The HMRC’s own charter says that everyone has a right to be respected and believed. Clearly this duty has been forgotten when making decisions about the income of my financially vulnerable constituents. In addition, the law is quite clear that it is for HMRC to prove fraud not for the recipient to prove their claim is not fraudulent yet that is the position my constituents have been placed in.

The Government have now stripped Concentrix of their contract but I am not convinced that they are entirely to blame for this mess.

Both Concentrix and HMRC have forgotten the human cost of tax credit disqualifications. I have had to hand out food bank vouchers, one constituent has missed rent payments and is being threatened with eviction and some have fallen into considerable debt. It is not acceptable that they have been caught in the middle of HMRC and Concentrix blaming one another for this total mess.

I will be joining my Labour colleagues in the Commons tomorrow for a debate on Concentrix and tax credits where I will try and make some of these points. I am glad that Parliament is scrutinising what went wrong with the contract. We have to know what happened and how to ensure it does not happen again.

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