Problems with downtime, speed and stability have hit the system, developed by EDS, so staff working on public helplines have been unable to handle children’s tax credit claims.
Dawn Primarolo, the Paymaster General, admitted the system ‘has not been working as well as we expected and there has been unscheduled down time as a result’.
She added: ‘The Inland Revenue are working urgently with their IT partners to improve the system’s availability, speed and stability.’
An Inland Revenue spokeswoman said the problems have been caused by the volume of claims and calls which has slowed the system down: ‘We deal with around 25,000 cases a day. We’re catching up with the number of payments. Some 5.1 million families are entitled under the new tax credits compared to justover a million under the old tax credit system.’
She said that families will not be losing out while there are problems with the system: ‘We have temporary measures in place while we are making the system more robust where people can go to their local Inland Revenue enquiry centre and get a giro.’
Conservative MP for Aylesbury, David Lidington, who asked a parliamentary question about the system, said: ‘It’s an utter disgrace. The failures have left many of my constituents and thousand of others out of pocket. If they manage to get through to the helpline, many are just told the system is down.’
He added: ‘There needs to be an investigation. It’s a wretched state of affairs that would not be tolerated in the private sector. If it is the fault of EDS, the money should be recouped.’
Last month Revenue chairman Sir Nick Montagu raised the possibility of EDS facing financial penalties for supplying systems that have not lived up to promises made by the vendor, and for leaving thousands of families without vital financial support.
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