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Another HMRC computer glitch

National insurance this time

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More problems with computer systems at HM Revenue & Customs have left at least 500,000 people with gaps in their national insurance records and might prevent them from claiming their full pensions and other benefits.

The Guardian reported today that a senior civil servant had been told on the eve of his retirement that computer records of national insurance contributions he made in 2004/2005 had been lost and, unless he paid that period's contributions again, he would not get his full pension. Thus, another HMRC computer glitch came to light.

The report said NI records would be corrected by autumn. The HMRC suggested it could fix the problem sooner if it could rely on citizens to do the corrections.

"We can immediately put any NI contributions for 2004/05 onto a customer's NI account if they write to us at NICO and enclose a photocopy of the P60," HMRC said in a statement.

The department told the Guardian's source that it had affected everyone's national insurance records for the year - that's about 30m people, though the paper reported that the payments of 500,000 people had been lost.

HMRC said in its statement that records had not been updated in a "small number of cases", but 98 per cent of its records were now correct.

It had been caused by the "slightly delayed introduction of a new IT system last year", the department said.

IT systems have been a regular thorn in the side of HMRC. The tax credits fiasco was in part blamed on an IT system originally developed by EDS, which was kicked off the project and ordered to pay £71.5m in compensation. The deal absolved EDS of further liability. Capgemini took responsibility, but not full liability, for the system after EDS was given the boot two years ago. ®

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