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Revenue & Customs staff sacked over race abuse

Hartnett: no tolerance of racial abuse

A Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation has found that seven white employees were guilty of falsely amending welfare benefit claims of Black and ethnic minority claimants reducing the amount they were paid. All were found guilty of racially motivated gross misconduct.

Nine men were initially investigated and two resigned immediately as the investigation began and the other seven were dismissed on Tuesday.

The investigation raises concerns that employees of HMRC who hold racist views may be denying black and ethnic minority claimants their full entitlement to welfare benefits.

Dave Hartnett, Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC, claimed the department operates a zero-tolerance policy on racial discrimination. However this case highlights that in reality such discrimination can be hard to detect. Hartnett said:

“The vast majority of our people are entirely professional and one of the ways we support that professionalism is by taking decisive action against the tiny minority who let us all down by falling far short of those standards.”

Viv Ahmun Director of Equanomics campaigning group called on HMRC to launch a national inquiry into the amount of benefits received by Black and ethnic minorities. He said:

“The HMRC need to reassure Black communities that they are not being denied benefits to which they are entitled by HMRC employees conducting a campaign to deny them benefits. A national investigation is needed to make sure this is an isolated incident and not a nationally coordinated campaign.”

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2 Responses

  1. And it was child benefit, which is one of the most unambiguous ones about whether you’re eligible or not, and so the easiest to detect this sort of behaviour by its administrators.

    Housing benefit, or JSA, or DLA, where there’s a lot more scope for delays, “discretion”, and so on in the process – this would be much harder to detect.

  2. You do have to remember that a crime is a crime regardless of motive (apparent racialism in this case) and that the motive should not be allowed to outweigh the crime or be taken to make the same crime worse than another motive.

    This does not excuse the crime.

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