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Concentrix: 90% of tax-credit company appeals upheld

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About 90% of appeals against a company hired by Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to cut tax-credit payments have been upheld, government figures reveal.

Between 14 September and 15 November 2016, 24,219 claimants have had their tax credits reinstated.

HMRC has previously announced the US company, Concentrix, will not have its contract renewed.

On Monday, an official said HMRC had "long established processes in place" to review decisions.

Concentrix has not responded to request for comment.

Image caption Ms Ekpenyong said she was "elated" after learning her tax credits would be reinstated

Concentrix was hired to help cut tax-credit fraud and overpayment, but has been accused in recent months of incorrectly withdrawing tax credits from hundreds of claimants.

The BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme has previously reported the case of Nicola McKenzie, a teenage mother who had her child tax credits stopped by the company after she was wrongly accused of being married to a 74-year-old dead man.

These latest government figures show that HMRC received 32,358 requests from claimants asking for their case to be reviewed, during a two-month period.

Of these, 26,990 cases have been closed - with 24,219 claimants (89.7%) successfully having their tax credits reinstated.

Tax credits - the child tax credit and the working tax credit - are government payments made to households on low incomes.

Catherine Smart Ekpenyong said she had been "elated" to learn her tax credits would be reinstated after they had been cut in August.

"I cried, I shook, I was pinching myself," she said, adding that she would now be able to "do a normal food shop" and afford to travel to hospital to receive post-cancer treatment and check-ups.

Compensation

SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said it "speaks for the scandal of Concentrix" that almost nine out of 10 cases had been upheld.

She called on the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, to ensure compensation was available for all those affected.

"Some are receiving it, but some aren't," she said.

"There are paltry sums like £20 in some cases... it doesn't even cost the cover of the phone calls or the postage of sending documents again and again to be reviewed by Concentrix."

She added: "The government must accept responsibility."

In October, HMRC announced it would take on the work being done by Concentrix.

On Monday, HMRC said in a statement: "We have long established processes in place, where customers can ask us to review a decision made about their tax-credits claim.

"At this stage, the evidence requested or further information is usually provided by the customer, which allows HMRC to assess their claim and ensure they receive the tax credits they are entitled to."

Treasury Minister Jane Ellison said: "HMRC will consider whether [compensation] is appropriate... on the circumstances of the specific case."

The Victoria Derbyshire programme is broadcast on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.

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