Today I spoke in the debate on Concentrix and raised the cases of constituents who have been left feeling degraded, insulted and demoralised:
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Nuttall.
Since 6 September—just six weeks ago—I have had 11 constituents bring their complaints to me. In one case, Concentrix did not believe a young woman because it saw money from someone with the same surname going into her account. It refused to believe that it was because she handled her mother’s bills. Just because she was helping out her ageing mother, that lady had to pawn her late father’s jewellery so that she could put food on the table for her family. Another constituent’s tax credits stopped after the Concentrix system incorrectly calculated that she had worked under the threshold; it even ignored a letter that she provided from her employer. As of today, she has been without payment for nearly four months.
It is degrading to not be believed and trusted, to be considered to be cheating the system, especially when evidence and sound reason to the contrary are given. When someone is working hard to make ends meet, it is deeply insulting and demoralising to have the floor unjustly ripped out from under them.
Fortunately, the message seems to be getting through, because Concentrix has, indeed, been given the boot, but the Government’s new approach, which has ended up with their having to hire hundreds of staff into the Revenue, will end up costing millions—talk about a false economy. That is the problem of a Government who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing; the presumption is of guilt, not innocence; the currency is suspicion, not trust, and those who need and are entitled to help are made to feel like cheats.
Theresa May claims that she wants to build a country that works for everyone, yet her Government consistently undermine some of the basic binds that are supposed to hold our country together. There is no excuse or reason for that. Let us hope that lessons are learned and that, from now on, systems are built to reduce insecurity in people’s lives rather than leaving them on the edge of survival.