Concentrix benefits scandal - politicians and residents unite

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has welcomed the end of Concentrix's contract with HMRC
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue has welcomed the end of Concentrix's contract with HMRC

Politicians and residents have demanded the Government backs up its decision to ensure there will be no repeat of the Concentrix benefits scandal.

HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson this week told a committee in Parliament that tax credits claimants would never again have to deal with a private company.

This is yet another example in an ever-expanding list of private greed riding roughshod over the rights of ordinary people preserving their right to access the tax credits to which they were entitled

Yvonne Fovargue

This follows thousands of single mums, including some in Wigan, being stripped of hundreds of pounds by the US firm due to inaccurate claims about their lives.

Mr Thompson told the Treasury Committee HMRC will not look for a third party to help it with the tax credit system.

The National Audit Office has also indicated it will investigate the contract between Concentrix and the revenue-gathering body.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, who has campaigned on behalf of several local Concentrix victims, said the decision not to employ another private firm was right and demanded ministers act to back up the words.

Ms Fovargue said: “This is yet another example in an ever-expanding list of private greed riding roughshod over the rights of ordinary people preserving their right to access the tax credits to which they were entitled.

“The reality of the Concentrix debacle is that families were denied access to vital social security risking stress, despair and choosing between heating and eating as well as the toll on their health.

“The Government’s announcement is the right one and they now need to act in good faith and announce when a full public investigation will take place into this shabby affair and set out a timetable for compensation to those who were unfairly denied tax credits.”

One of Concentrix’s victims from the borough, Abram single mum Catherine Carter, yesterday spoke in the Wigan Evening Post about her ordeal which lasted more than a month.

She was stripped of £117.50 a week by Concentrix over the incorrect claim another woman was also living at the property and that was not being declared.

She spoke of spending hours on the phone trying to speak to Concentrix staff, once ringing 85 times in one day, having to borrow money from friends and family and becoming ill with the stress of supporting her family with a stretched budget.

Mum-of-two Catherine today said she was pleased there would be no repeat of the Concentrix problems, saying it was the second time HMRC had experienced problems employing outside firms.

Catherine, 36, said: “I asked them why they were employing them, they’ve got enough staff. Something similar happened a few years ago and everybody’s lives got messed up.

“They shouldn’t employ anybody else, especially not random people who don’t seem to have a clue what they are doing.”

Mr Thompson was told by MPs HMRC should consider launching its own internal investigation, but he replied his priority was sorting out customers who had lost money.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy said: “This welcome announcement is far too late for the thousands of people who have been unfairly denied the support they need to survive.

“I’ve been contacted by so many people in Wigan who have fallen victim to Concentrix and the Government must ensure that all of these cases are thoroughly investigated and back payments are made where appropriate.

“The Government should also be pursuing Concentrix for the recovery of costs associated with cleaning up this mess.”