HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has allegedly been paying staff to stay at home for three months following a tax credit systematic IT failure.
This is according to an exclusive report published in Accountancy Age last week.
The publication claims to have gained the information via a staff member at Concentrix, a US business services provider that has bagged a £75m outsourcing deal with HMRC.
The firm was supposed to be checking up on erroneous or fraudulent UK working tax credit payments, but the source revealed that after receiving three weeks training in August last year, the system did not go live on September 1st as originally intended.
When the live date arrived, staff, with an average full time salary of £15,000, were told that their computers did not “talk” to HMRC’s wider system and were then told to “clock” in for duty on a weekly basis to see whether the system was working or not.
As the system was always found to be non-functional, employees were then sent on and paid wages for 30 hours of the 40 they were originally supposed to work.
“Concentrix and HMRC did all that was in their power to get the project off the ground as soon as possible. All costs, including employee salaries were absorbed by Concentrix and not the taxpayer,” the source told Accountancy Age.
The news adds to a long list of criticisms that HMRC is facing regarding its IT systems – earlier this year it came under fire after the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) slammed the way it is handling its Aspire contract.
It was also recently revealed in a PAC report that the troubled Universal Credit (UC) programme is already six months behind schedule just 22 months after it was “reset.”
The Committee noted that despite £700m being spent on the new benefits project since 2010, fewer than 18,000 people were claiming UC by October 2014 – just 0.3% of the eligible population.
“The IT infrastructure for UC continues to be of particular concern,” claimed PAC Chair Margaret Hodge.
“The Department has spent £344m with suppliers developing its ‘live’ service systems for claimants who have straightforward initial claims which do not involve all six benefits, yet it expects to re-use £334m worth of this IT in the longer term.
“The live systems are technically limited and expensive to operate because they require manual intervention. The Department is developing and testing a new digital service which it intends will deliver UC to all types of claimant in the long term,” Hodge added.