Feeds

Primarolo 'misled' MPs on e-portal fraud

Taxing questions

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the paymaster general knew about fraud on the tax credits system earlier than she acknowledged.

David Laws, the party's spokesperson on work and pensions, made the allegation after Dawn Primarolo had given evidence to Parliament's Treasury Sub-Committee on February 1, 2006.

Primarolo told the committee that her department took the decision to close the tax credits e-portal after it began to suspect organised identity fraud was taking place in November 2005. But Laws claims she had already said in a parliamentary written answer that the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had detected organised fraud in June and possibly much earlier.

After an increase in fraudulent claims, predominantly via the internet, HMRC closed the tax credit e-portal in early December last year. Until then the service had been dealing with 500,000 claims each year.

Primarolo said that despite early problems with the tax credit IT the performance of the system is getting better and processing accuracy is continuing to improve.

Committee member Andrew Love highlighted evidence taken from the civil service PCS union and HMRC chief executive David Varney that the tax credit IT system was "fragile [and] unstable". In response, Primarolo said that since April 2005 there have been 300 improvements to the computer system.

"A significant new software release was introduced without a hitch in November. Although largely invisible to people outside, this exercise delivers real improvements in operational performance," she said.

A further major software release is planned for April 2006. It should enable HMRC to start issuing new tax credit award notices and more simplified guidance notices. But Laws described the tax credit system as "an organisational shambles".

"It's high time that ministers were held to account," he said. "If it turns out that she had misled Parliament on this issue, then her position as a minister will become untenable."

Tax credits were introduced by the government in 2003 as a way to tackle child poverty and encourage more people into work by providing income related support. But its computer systems, originally supplied by EDS and now run by Cap Gemini, failed to perform well from the start. In January 2006, a report from Parliament's Public Administration Committee criticised the scheme for its lack of "customer support".

© 2006 Kablenet logo

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy
Even Moore's Law can't help the architects of statism now
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.