Benefit cuts cause panic

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Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has this week appealed for people who have had their tax credits withdrawn mistakenly by HMRC to come forward for help.

It follows the MP being inundated with panic stricken constituents who had been left penniless by the mistakes. Mr Arkless also welcomed news that HMRC will not be renewing the contact they have with Concentix, who have caused the mess, when it ends in May 2017.

Concentrix is a US firm that was hired by HMRC to look into 5.5 million tax credit awards to identify fraudulent cases or errors.

The multi-national firm has faced a catalogue of complaints over the way it reviews people’s entitlement to tax credits - payments have been cancelled arbitrarily, letters have gone missing and tax credits have been withdrawn without the required 30 days’ notice.

Mr Arkless said: “The Concentrix contract with the government is based on a payment-by-results model, meaning it makes more money if it cuts more payments - their actions have driven many local families into immediate poverty and I am therefore delighted to hear that they will not have their contact renewed in May. I have been contacted by dozen of constituents, mainly women, who are in dire straits because of Concentrix ‘guilty until proven innocent attitude’. Some people have had their benefits stopped because there are other names linked to their address, in one case a vulnerable lady lost her benefits because her landlord’s name was also linked to the property. I would urge anyone currently dealing with Concentrix to come forward.

“We are referring people to the local Food Bank and are working closely with the council. But my main concern is that there will be many more people out there who have been wrongly accused by Concentrix but have not yet been in touch. I understand they have made an emergency pot available to help those affected.” Mr Arkless can be contacted by email richard.arkless.mp@parliament.uk or on 01387 265 698.