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By helping customers to get their claim right from the outset, and to keep their award on track, HMRC is reducing the risk of loss and improving customer

20 July 2009 : Column WS168

service. Through the Tax Credits Transformation Programme it is now offering better support to customers-for example, HMRC is helping new customers to make their claim accurately, tailoring the level of extra support to their particular needs. The department is also contacting large numbers of customers to check that their tax credits award remains up to date throughout the year and continues to reflect their current circumstances. Additional assistance is also being provided to some vulnerable customers when they renew their claims. Overall HMRC is contacting over 500,000 customers this year offering additional help.

HMRC has also introduced additional checks of many new claims, making better use of information it already holds to prevent financial loss from some of the most frequent mistakes. It is also contacting certain customers who have not reported changes of circumstances for some time to offer assistance to make sure their award is up to date and correct. HMRC is also expanding its outreach work through children's centres by providing advice and support to customers.

On fraud, the department has implemented a range of measures designed to restrict the opportunity for abuse of the system. These include tighter control on the issue of claim forms, fraud awareness training for staff, and deploying compliance officers in tax credit call centres. Efforts to target organised fraud have successfully reduced the level of identified losses due to organised fraud from the levels in 2005-06. HMRC prevented incorrect tax credits payments due to organised fraud of £66 million in 2007-08.

HMRC is also getting tougher on individuals who commit fraud. It is increasing its use of data matching, using information from a wide variety of sources, within government and beyond, to identify those who attempt to abuse the system. It is also sharing intelligence with other government agencies and investigating cases jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions. Those who are caught face being charged a penalty and interest in addition to repaying the amount they defrauded, and in the most serious cases, the department can and does prosecute. This approach is consistent with HMRC's vision about being passionate in helping those who need it and being relentless in pursuing those who bend or break the rules.

HMRC will use the analysis published today to refine its strategy further.

A copy of these statistics has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on the HMRC website.

Workers Memorial Day

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Yvette Cooper) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 27 July, my department will publish a Command Paper on Workers Memorial Day.


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