Britain’s youngest MP absolutely destroys the government with this searing attack on the tax credit fiasco [VIDEO]

Support us and go ad-free

The UK’s youngest MP has savaged Theresa May’s government over its chaotic handling of tax credits. Mhairi Black, the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, slammed the government’s behaviour as “absolutely disgusting” after a private company stopped thousands of people’s tax credit payments, plunging them into poverty.

A licence to harass

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) gave a £75m contract to US firm Concentrix to help cut tax credit fraud and overpayments. But MPs said the company was incompetent after countless people had their tax credits wrongly stopped. Many of them received “fishing” letters, wanting them to confirm details such as marital status or the number of hours worked.

The government gave Concentrix a “licence to harass“, according to Labour MP Peter Dowd, and the company made countless false accusations of fraud. It stopped people’s tax credits, sometimes based on false information. And often, its “victims” had no warning. Concentrix has been accused of unnecessarily plunging thousands of people into poverty. The government has said Concentrix would not have its contract renewed in 2017.

On Wednesday 26 October, Black spoke about the fiasco in a debate in parliament:

All of my constituents I dealt with didn’t discover their tax credits had stopped until they went to collect them from the bank and discovered they had nothing.

Real lives at stake

Pointing out that people’s “survival” was at risk, Black told the story of Marie – a mother of two. Marie went to the bank, only to find her tax credits had been stopped. She had to survive for six weeks without any support, and “genuinely could not fill the cupboards with any food”. Black said that Marie spoke of the shame of having to take her children to a food bank to be able to eat.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Marie’s story is worryingly familiar. MoneySavingExpert reported on Olivia’s story. The 22-year-old single mum from Liverpool had her tax credits payments suspended without warning when her son was just two weeks old. She was then accused of living with an undeclared partner, but she received no letter about it; Concentrix simply stopped her tax credits. Olivia then had to survive on £44 a week, to feed her newborn baby and a toddler, for seven weeks.

Tax credit chaos

When people wanted to query Concentrix actions, they had to apply for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. But Concentrix did the reconsiderations, as Black pointed out. And in 95% of cases, the company was in the wrong. As Black said:

this company was openly admitting they only got it right 5% of the time.

Black then turned it back on the Conservative government:

We need to remember that HMRC and the government were supplying information to Concentrix, so a lot of the fault lies with the government. This entire contract has been an absolute shambles and ludicrous from the start… It is actually completely disgusting for this to be happening under the watch of government…  When the mistakes are made by government, it is people who suffer. And often it is the most vulnerable people.

MPs have received “an 11% pay rise”, said Black. “Who in the outside world has seen that kind of pay rise?”

Thousands of people are currently suffering due to the government’s mistakes. Black said the government must take back control of the services run by Concentrix. But this will be of little comfort to the thousands of people already affected, by yet another Conservative outsourcing shambles.

You can watch Black’s full speech here:

Get Involved!

– Sign the petition to reinstate people’s tax credits where Concentrix has stopped them.

Watch the full Concentrix debate on Parliament TV.

Read more articles by The Canary on the Conservative government.

Support The Canary, so we can keep bringing you the news that matters.

Featured image via screengrab

Support us and go ad-free

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us

Comments are closed