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Tax Credits (Concentrix)

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 25 October 2016

10. What steps his Department is taking to compensate people affected by incorrect withdrawal of tax credits as a result of errors by Concentrix. (906791)

If anyone feels their tax credits have been incorrectly withdrawn owing to errors by Concentrix, they should urgently contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, which will review all complaint cases and will, and indeed does, pay redress where appropriate.

Labour welcomes the cancellation of the Concentrix contract and the fact that it will be administered in-house by HMRC staff. Will the Minister reassure the thousands of single parents and families, many in my Neath constituency, that their tax credits erroneously stopped by Concentrix will be reinstated immediately so their children can be kept safe and warm and not go unfed as winter approaches?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to draw the House’s attention to the importance of prioritising vulnerable claimants. HMRC held a further drop-in for colleagues recently, on 19 October; it was attended by 15 Members, and a number of complaints and issues were raised, which we are on the way to resolving.

On restarting claims, the key is to get the right information. HMRC has taken back a vast number of cases, and I will say more about this tomorrow. The priority is to get the right information, to get claims started again as soon as the facts are established.

When the Minister wrote to me after I asked a previous question, she said:

“Amounts to be paid to the supplier are reduced if actual performance fails to meet standards set in the contract.”

Does that include penalties for withdrawing tax credits when they should not have been withdrawn?

The terms of the contract between HMRC and Concentrix are obviously in the public domain, and it is right that when performance is not as per the contract there are associated deductions, but I will be in a position to give the House more information about the contract in tomorrow’s Opposition day debate.

A number of my constituents have been affected by this issue, not least a frontline police officer who had her benefits withdrawn, which meant her childcare could not be paid and she was potentially not going to be able to go to work. Luckily, my office intervened and we were able to get her benefits, but what is the Minister going to do to compensate people for upset and unjust treatment?

There are two points here. First, as I have said, if people feel their tax credits have been incorrectly withdrawn because of errors they should contact HMRC, which will review that and redress can be made. Secondly, customers can ask for mandatory reconsideration if they do not feel that their circumstances have been correctly identified. Sometimes that is because people do not send through the right information.