The independent National Audit Office has in fact published its report on HMRC’s contract with Concentrix today. HMRC senior managers will attend a Public Accounts Committee hearing on 25 January, at which the report will be discussed.
Given the report released this morning, which the Minister mentioned, and the fact that the whole debacle has caused undue stress to thousands of people across the country, including in my constituency, what specific lessons has she and the Department learned?
There are a number of things. I reflected on them during the Opposition day debate on this subject when, as Labour Front Benchers will remember, I accepted their motion. We have of course learned a number of lessons, including on how Ministers monitor colleagues’ views about the way in which we deal with their concerns on behalf of their constituents. HMRC has confirmed that it is not planning a contract of this nature for this particular operation, but it will have more to say when it responds both to the PAC and to the report.
Given the NAO’s excoriating report on Concentrix’s failure to achieve savings targets, performance targets, serviceable staffing levels, sufficient levels of training, call handling accuracy, proficient contract management and competent decision making—while, unbelievably, increasing its commission almost threefold—would not the Chancellor’s time be better spent concentrating on getting a modicum of efficiency into HMRC, rather than popping off to Davos for a winter sojourn?
First, I want to say that many tens of thousands of people work for HMRC. It would do their morale a power of good if people in this House reflected on their current excellent performance and the improvements they have made on customer service compared with two years ago. I want to compliment them publicly on the improvements they have made.
We have accepted that mistakes were made on Concentrix, and that is the reason why the agreement was terminated. We will reflect on that further when we respond to the National Audit Office report.