TaxAdministrationMPs ridicule Customs’ efficiency claims

MPs ridicule Customs' efficiency claims

Customs and Excise chairman Richard Broadbent has come under fire from MPs for claiming that a 55% increase in outstanding VAT debt was a result of increased efficiency.

Link: Customs denies fraud case bungles

He was told by MPs at a meeting of the influential Public Accounts Committee that the numbers were ‘Alice in Wonderland stuff’

During a grilling by the committee Broadbent was told by Tory Labour MP Jon Trickett that the department’s reorganisation of debt management had been a ‘catastrophic mistake’.

Accountant MP Nick Gibb expressed concern that as part of the shake-up 101 staff years had been saved while the number of unresolved debts remained stubbornly at 128,000 valued at £2.1bn as of 31 March 2002 – an increase of £748m from a year before.

Broadbent promised a note to the mystified MPs to explain in detail why this was the case, and he said that the actual cash sum of debt collected was rising fast.

He highlighted the problem of ‘missing person fraud’ – where a trader makes deals across European Union frontiers, normally involving mobile phones or computer chips, moves the money abroad before collapsing the company and vanishing – as his top priority to tackle.

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