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IT blamed for tax credits problems

System 'inflexible', adjudicator says

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The adjudicator for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has highlighted inflexibilities in the department's systems.

Dame Barbara Mills, the adjudicator for complaints about HMRC, the Valuation Office Agency, the Public Guardianship Office and the Insolvency Service, has highlighted the IT problems in her annual report.

She said that "inflexibilities" with the IT system constrain quick delivery of some of the most desired changes. As a result, there may be some delay before the full impact of the work on reducing tax credits complaints becomes apparent.

In her report last year, Mills highlighted a number of continuing problems with the tax credits system. Over the past year she has received an increasing number of complaints about tax credits, covering the same range of problems. Seventy-four per cent of such complaints that were investigated were fully or partially upheld.

Last year she also referred to a growing recognition within the HMRC that the system needed to improve. In the new report she has highlighted the measures announced by the paymaster general in her May 2005 announcement to the House of Commons as welcome further evidence of this.

"A programme of work is now under way within HMRC - including important changes in how the Tax Credits Office handles complaints - that should, over time, deliver significant improvements," Mills said.

She also noted that, despite the pace of organisational change following the creation of HMRC last year, this was done in a way that minimised disruption to complaints handling processes and complainants. HMRC has recently conducted an internal review of its complaints handling. Mills intends to monitor its progress.

The new report covers the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. ®

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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