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Customs to upgrade VAT system

James Rogers
HM Customs and Excise has said the replacement for its controversial Lords computer system will be in place by 2005 at the latest.

Last week a scathing report from the National Audit Office (NAO) called on Customs and Excise to upgrade Lords, which is an integral part of the department's anti-fraud operation. The system, which was developed in-house, is used to record and track applications from traders registering for VAT.

A Customs and Excise spokeswoman said, "The new system to replace Lords will be implemented by 2005, in line with the Government's e-strategy." We had already highlighted the fact that work needed to be done on the system, she added.

Auditors criticised poor controls over the data input to Lords, which could affect the accuracy of information held on traders. They also found the system suffered from poor logical security and was unable to produce transaction and audit logs.

However, Customs officials are adamant that effective anti-fraud systems are in place. "We do have strategies for tackling fraud and, broadly speaking, the NAO was supportive of the steps that we have taken to tackle it," said the spokeswoman.

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