Northern Ireland

Concentrix: Belfast staff learned contract news 'via BBC tweet'

Concentrix says it remains committed to its staff in Belfast Image copyright © Copyright Joseph Mischyshyn/Geograph
Image caption Concentrix says it remains committed to its staff in Belfast

Staff at the Belfast offices of American contractor Concentrix discovered the firm was being dropped by the Government via social media, an MP has claimed.

The company brought in to cut fraud and error in the benefit system will not have its contract renewed by HMRC.

It follows complaints that it wrongly cut payments to hundreds of claimants.

On Wednesday, DUP MP Gavin Robinson said the 1,800 Belfast-based staff were not informed about the decision.

'Appalling'

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Belfast East MP said: "Can I ask you to reflect how appalling it was that members of staff, many of whom are my constituents, found out this news last night by a tweet by the BBC - as opposed to any communication from Concentrix or indeed any statement to this House?"

Financial Secretary Jane Ellison told MPs: "The contract is not going to be renewed - it's not been terminated.

"To that extent, the consideration of whether any contract is renewed is something that takes place in the normal course of events.

"At the same time as we shine a light on areas where performance is unacceptable, it's also really important that we take the chance to reflect that many people are working hard to do their job as well as possible."

The contract awarded to Concentrix, worth between £55m and £75m on a payment by results basis, will come to an end in May 2017.

In the eight months until then, Concentrix will work on clearing outstanding cases, said HMRC.

Concentrix said it had operated "within the guidance set by HMRC".

Belfast is 'excellent base'

In a statement, the company said it remained "committed to Belfast" and that it believes Belfast is "an excellent base for our operations in the UK and beyond".

It said the decision by HMRC not to renew its contract "in no way reflects upon the professionalism and determination of [its] staff".

"Our staff are our top priority and we will do everything possible to minimise any impact," it said.

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