US company stripped of contract to spot tax credit cheats

HM Revenue & Customs
HM Revenue & Customs
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A giant US company accused of wrongly removing tax credits from thousands of vulnerable claimants has been stripped of its contract to root out benefit fraud.

The i disclosed yesterday that MPs of all parties had been inundated with protests from angry constituents over decisions taken by investigators working for Concentrix.

In a further case reported yesterday, a 19-year-old single parent, Nicola McKenzie, lost her tax credits after she was wrongly accused of being married to a dead 74-year-old man.

HM Revenue and Customs last night announced that it would not be renewing its controversial contract with the outsourcing company and was allocating 150 of its own staff to deal with tax credit decisions.

Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the work and pensions select committee, who has led calls for an investigation into the company, said: “Concentrix’s reign of terror is drawing to a close. Again the Government has acted decisively in protecting vulnerable Britain.”

The Labour MP Louise Haigh tweeted: “Victory!!! Delighted campaigning has been successful and this disgraceful company stripped of its contract.”

HMRC signed a three-year deal in 2014 worth £55m-£75m for Concentrix to check tax credit claims.

It received huge numbers of complaints about decisions and problems which claimants encountered in discussing their cases with Concentrix staff.

Following emergency meetings yesterday, HMRC announced that the contract would not be renewed when it runs out next May.

It said it was redeploying 150 staff to deal with the backlog of checks on tax credit claims.

Jon Thompson, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “We want to reassure customers who have had their tax credits stopped that we will prioritise their cases, and make sure that they are processed as quickly as possible.

“While it’s right that we ensure that tax credits customers only receive the money to which they’re entitled, it is vital that those customers have a high level of service.

“That’s why we have decided not to extend our contract with Concentrix.”

Mr Field’s committee had been set to summon Concentrix bosses for questioning.

Craig Mackinlay, a Tory member of the committee, accused Concentrix of “falling far short of anyone’s expectations”. The SNP MP Chris Law said around 12 per cent of his constituency cases were from people complaining about mistakes by Concentrix.