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From: The Socialist issue 920, 12 October 2016: Housing crisis can be beaten

Search site for keywords: Tax credits - Tax - Cuts - Claimants - Public services - Benefits - Birmingham - HM Revenue and Customs - Minimum wage

Suicidal phone calls: fight to reverse tax credit cuts

Call centre workers at a private tax credit cuts firm have to deal with suicidal claimants, photo by William Brawley (Creative Commons)

Call centre workers at a private tax credit cuts firm have to deal with suicidal claimants, photo by William Brawley (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Corinthia Ward, Birmingham Central Socialist Party

Concentrix, a private US firm used by HM Revenue and Customs to cut tax credit payments, has been receiving suicidal calls from claimants - as a result of losing their payments thrusting them deeper into poverty.

An anonymous Concentrix worker has spoken out against the firm. He highlighted not only the lack of training for its 600 staff, but also the high volume of desperate calls from people who rely and survive on tax credits. "People crying down the phone to you that they're down to their last bag of wipes, have no food in the fridge to feed their kids."

The Tories awarded Concentrix a 75 million contract to investigate potential fraudulent claimants. However, hundreds of low-income households have had their tax credits stopped without being forewarned, and without any time to refute the allegations.

Concentrix call centre staff have been at the receiving end of these highly stressful calls. The same whistleblower reported the company gives them no counselling or support. They are instead told to "have a smoke... you'll be fine" - and then expected to come back and deal with another 40 or 50 calls.

The Socialist Party demands the reversal of tax credit cuts, and of profiteering from public services. All workers should have proper training and support, backed up by trade union recognition to help hold management to account.

A 10 an hour minimum wage will ensure less people need to claim tax credits. And fund real living benefits for all as well.

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Article dated 12 October 2016

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