Concentrix was wrong to stop tax credits in 90 per cent of appealed cases, figures show

Appeals have been overwhelmingly succesful 

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Indy Politics

Around nine out of ten people who appealed against Concentrix and HMRC stopping their tax credits were in fact entitled to tax credits, Government figures show.

Conentrix was hired by HMRC to root out fraud and error in the tax credit system – and stop tax credit payments to people who were not entitled to them.

The firm has however been accused of taking a blanket approach and incorrectly withdrawing tax credits from thousands of claimants.

Around a million “threatening” letters were sent to people who were flagged up on automatic computer systems. MPs have described the approach as “spam”.

Now new figures show that between 14 September and 15 November 2016, 24,219 claimants have had their tax credits reinstated after having them stopped.

There were a total of 32,358 requests from claimants for an appeal during the that period, with 26,990 cases closed so far. The exact percentage of closed cases upheld is 89.7 per cent.

The Government has said it will not renew Concentrix’s contract and that it will end it earlier. HMRC officials have also said they will not contract out customer-facing tax credit functions to private companies again.

Last week Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the Treasury Select Committee, however warned that “a serious problem remains in the tax credits system” and called for a “wide-ranging internal review” on the subject.

At a parliamentary debate on the subject last month MPs shared anecdotes of how their constituents were forced to pawn their late parents’ jewelry to make ends meet, how food in their freezer spoiled after their electricity was cut off, or how they were forced spend their last £5 on submitting evidence to the company using expensive recorded delivery.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We have long established processes in place, where customers can ask us to review a decision made about their tax-credits claim.

“At this stage, the evidence requested or further information is usually provided by the customer, which allows HMRC to assess their claim and ensure they receive the tax credits they are entitled to.”

A spokesperson for the PCS civil service trade union said: "We were opposed to the privatisation of this work from the outset and warned HMRC against going ahead. We're pleased the department now agrees with us that it should always remain in-house, this commitment should be extended across the rest of the welfare state."