A local MP has hit out at scandal-hit firm Concentrix as the Government announced a review of thousands of cases of people being wrongly stripped of tax credits.
Makerfield parliamentary representative Yvonne Fovargue said the action on the controversial US contractor was welcome but not enough to make up for the damage it had done to residents’ lives.
Although I am pleased that HMRC are reviewing claims this cannot make up for the distress and hardship caused by the removal of benefits without just cause.MP Yvonne Fovargue
Concentrix was sacked by HM Revenue and Customs after its attempts to cut fraud and error in the system resulted in a barrage of high-profile cases in which people were targeted incorrectly.
The Government has now confirmed the 23,000 claimants who did not originally take their cases to appeal will have them reviewed.
This comes after 87 per cent of the 36,000 appeals lodged against Concentrix saw the company’s decision overturned.
Wiganers have previously spoken of their nightmare ordeals spending weeks with no tax credits after they were sanctioned by Concentrix.
MP Ms Fovargue, who fought for several constituents wrongly targeted, used the latest announcement to once again criticise the firm.
She said: “I have been contacted by many constituents who had their benefits stopped for spurious reasons including one case of a woman accused of cohabiting with her sister.
“Although I am pleased that HMRC are reviewing claims this cannot make up for the distress and hardship caused by the removal of benefits without just cause.”
One Makerfield mum who contacted the Wigan Evening Post said Concentrix accused her of sharing her property with another woman she had never heard of before.
Other cases which attracted widespread attention included a woman asked by the firm if she was in a relationship with the Victorian Quaker Joseph Rowntree as she rented her home from an organisation named after him.
Frank Field, the chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee which produced a scathing report on the Concentrix contract, welcomed the Government’s agreement to accept its recommendations but warned the firm was not the only one treating people as guilty until proven innocent.
HMRC said lessons had been learned.
A spokesman said: “It is important to make checks on tax credits payments and this work will now be done by HMRC. We will not be entering into external contracts for this in future. We apologise to all those who did not receive the standard of service that they should have.”