'Sensitive' tax offices considered for sell-off

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INLAND Revenue departments handling highly sensitive individual information and data security are to be offered for privatisation under the Government's 'market-testing' initiative, writes Barrie Clement.

The Taxpayer Information Distribution Office, which receives data about individuals from other government departments, local authorities, banks and building societies, is among seven Inland Revenue departments to be considered for sale, according to internal papers.

Staff in the department, based at Cardiff, have access to confidential 'third party' information which is supplied to Inland Revenue by any organisation that is involved in taxable transactions with individuals.

The other sensitive department that may be privatised is the Departmental Security Unit, which supplies guards, but is also known to be responsible for the integrity of computer systems.

Clive Brooke, general secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation, said the new plans could severely undermine the confidentiality of the material being handled.