Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Staff paid to go home after tax system fails to connect

By Margaret Canning

Hundreds of Belfast employees working on a HMRC contract for an outsourcing firm had to be sent home from work for nearly three months following an IT foul-up, it has emerged.

The contract, worth up to £75m over three years, involved 600 workers at US firm Concentrix writing to millions of tax credits claimants to check their entitlements.

But a glitch with a system used by Concentrix meant the work did not start in September as planned as the Belfast system could not connect with HMRC computers.

Instead, for nearly three months employees were given the option of signing in once a week, then going home and getting 75% of their pay. They could also come into work for training and be fully paid.

Concentrix said it had borne the full costs of the blunder. A spokesman for HMRC said the contract with Concentrix was not for the provision of IT, and that the IT had been developed by the company.

"All the costs, including employee salaries, were covered by Concentrix, not the taxpayer.

"The company is not paid on the number of letters issued, staff employed or hours worked, but on the savings to public finances from correcting tax credits claims.

"Concentrix carries out routine tax credit checks on behalf of HMRC, to ensure that people receive the money they're entitled to."

A spokesman for Concentrix said: "Our project with HMRC is now fully operational.

"We value our staff and are committed to delivering a professional and efficient service to our customers."

Belfast Telegraph