Secrecy over tax credit IT system downtime

The paymaster general has refused to give details about the amount of time the child and working tax credit helpline lost through...

The paymaster general has refused to give details about the amount of time the child and working tax credit helpline lost through computer crashes. However, rapid improvements in IT availability have been promised.

The tax credit system has been dogged with problems. It failed to deliver cash to pay packets and the helpline failed repeatedly.

Shadow cabinet minister David Lidington asked chancellor Gordon Brown to "list the time and duration of each occasion when staff have been unable to access the computer system".

Answering for the chancellor, Treasury minister Dawn Primarolo said, "The IT system has not been working as well as expected and there has been unscheduled downtime as a result. The Inland Revenue are working urgently to improve the system.''

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