Julie today welcomed news that a controversial firm used by the government to cut tax credit payments – leaving many Sunderland families in hardship – has had its contract terminated.
US-based Concentrix was awarded a £75million contract by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to crack down on tax credit fraud and over-payment.
But, after families across Britain reported payments had been “erroneously stopped” – including scores in Sunderland – HMRC has confirmed that the Concentrix contract will not be extended.
"In recent weeks I have received a large number of calls and emails from constituents whose tax credits have stopped, causing unnecessary hardship,” said Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott.
"In one case, Concentrix wrongly axed support to a family for four months and refused to reverse the decision to suspend payments until I got involved.
"This constituent, their children and the people of Sunderland in general deserve better than this.”
Julie joined with fellow Labour MPs earlier this month to put pressure on the Government about Concentrix and believes the termination of the firm's contract is “welcome news”.
"We must move to a system which is both fair and administratively efficient when the Concentrix contract ends next May,” she added.
The axing of Concentrix was announced by Jon Thompson, chief executive of HMRC, who stated:
"We want to reassure customers who have had their tax credits stopped that we will prioritise their cases, and make sure that they are processed as quickly as possible.
"While it’s right that we ensure that tax credits customers only receive the money to which they’re entitled, it is vital that those customers have a high level of service.”
HMRC is now to redeploy 150 staff to help resolve claim issues, but Julie added:
"I am extremely concerned that the people who have contacted me are just a handful of those affected by this and that many more families may be suffering unnecessarily.
"If you live in Sunderland Central and are having problems with your tax credits, please do get in touch and I will do my best to assist you.”