PM Theresa May’s privatised benefits-cutting company destroyed one ‘Phoenix’ area ‘start-up’ business and looks set on destroying another.
It has also been revealed that US-owned Concentrix, which handles benefits claims for HMRC, makes more money the more tax credit applications it kicks out.
The news comes as the scandal over staff at the firm handling calls from suicidal claimants without being trained for it looks to be reaching a head.
Tomorrow (October 13) the company is set to be grilled over its activities by the House of Commons’ Work and Pensions Select Committee, chaired by Labour MP Frank Field.
Local start-up destroyed
The ‘Phoenix’ reader whose start-up business was destroyed applied for, ‘working tax credits as a single person.’
He shared a house with someone who set up a company a year before him.
Like thousands of others in the same position, the only relationship they had was a shared address.
So he was horrified when he was accused of lying about their connection in his application.
Officials then threw out his claim saying he failed to show he was single.
“It was insane!” he said. ” My house-share partner was already receiving ‘working tax credits as a single person’.
“How could they possibly reject my claim because we had a relationship? They won’t even discuss it. They refuse to justify such an obviously corrupt decision.
“These faceless pen-pushers don’t give a damn about businesses or jobs. They just sit in their ivory tower deliberately destroying people’s lives.”
It had taken him months of form-filling, jumping through hoops, data-gathering and producing business plans just to send in his tax credit application.
He had to go through it all again to file an appeal against Concentrix’s refusal only for that too seeming to be automatically rejected.
He needed the money to support his embryo company while his cash flow came on stream and he looked for more clients.
But he said: “Thanks to Concentrix I’ve lost everything and they don’t give a damn.”
He said his house-share partner was now coming under attack as well.
Officials were demanding documents and proof about absolutely everything – none of it was to do with tax assessments.
He said: “They’re obviously fishing for any excuse they can find to stop the payments.
“The paperwork they are demanding will take a solid week’s work to produce. That is all time lost to the business.”
The Tories gave Concentrix a £75 million contract, in May, 2015, to handle tax credits applications.
It was a, ‘results-based’, deal. That meant it was in Concentrix’s financial interest to refuse people’s claims because that drove up their profits.
Among the thousands of other people the company plunged into crisis was Nicola McKenzie.
Concentrix rejected her benefits application claiming she was married to the 74-year-old former tenant of her home. They were totally unrelated. He also happened to be dead.
The American company has also stopped thousands of other people’s payments without notice, throwing families into despair and driving parents to the food banks.
Even when their grounds for refusing applications have been found to be false, the firm has still blocked hardship payments for 30 more days.
When the money owed to the claimants has begun flowing again the backlog of cash has been doled out in £3-a-week payments.
Because they can
People have been left with crippling debts because Concentrix stopped their tax credits, seemingly just because they could.
Now its appears that Tory PM Theresa May and HMRC did not mind if people died, so long as they were denied support.
A Concentrix whistleblower said their call centre staff received up to 600 calls a day from people in so much distress they were screaming over the phone.
Not trained for suicide cases
Staff were ordered to keep people threatening suicide on the line until the police could be sent to their homes.
Concentrix’s employees were seemingly given no training for this work.
So it appears the Government, company and HMRC must have been aware there was a risk of people killing themselves because of call handler mistakes.
Concentrix kicked out
Concentrix has now been told its contract will be axed next May.
MP Frank Field said the company’s, “reign of terror was coming to an end”.
He will have a chance to find how they were able to get away with it for so long when they appear before his select committee tomorrow.