Watchdog slams Revenue's economy with truth

During the disastrous introduction of the tax credits system, the Inland Revenue “did not give a complete picture of what was happening”, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said in a damning report published today.

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During the disastrous introduction of the tax credits system, the Inland Revenue “did not give a complete picture of what was happening”, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said in a damning report published today.

The ombudsman said that while it was preparing for its 2003-04 report the Revenue assured it that the initial difficulties with the tax credit system “were only teething problems, which would be resolved as the new IT bedded down and staff became more experienced in operating the new system, and as both staff and customers became more familiar with the new rules”.

 

The ombudsman added, “But the cases I have investigated lead me to the conclusion that such reassurances did not give a complete picture of what has been happening, and the devastating effects the IT problems have had on some individuals’ lives, in terms of stress, financial hardship and living with continuous uncertainty regarding their awards."

 

The report comes a day after Computer Weekly launched a campaign for greater transparency of IT project management in HM Revenue and Customs, formerly the Inland Revenue. Ten years of detailed coverage of the Revenue's IT management has shown a tendency to obscure difficulties in IT projects where openness could have helped avoid further problems. Today’s ombudsman’s report backs this view.

 

Also published today, a report from the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux concludes that problems with the tax credit computer systems contributed to £1.9bn overpayments made by the Revenue.

 

“The lack of sophistication of the computer system has led to huge overpayments as calculations were made based on incompatible data, and there have been random and undue payments. Both these things have led to the high level of overpayments,” the CAB report said.

 

 

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