A story that is worthy of a huge snort of derision, I see that HMRC has been forced to “scour the internet” for spare parts for decrepit microfiche readers in order to try to cut delays in providing employment histories for people's compensation claims.
Jon Thompson, who faced the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, told the committee that most of the pre-1970s records were on microfiche, but there were a dwindling number of operational machines left to access them.
The Labour committee member John Mann said the wait had reached 383 days and was a significant problem for groups such as those affected by exposure to asbestos – or their widows.
Individuals are able to request their employment history if they are making a compensation claim for an industrial injury, a road accident, medical negligence or hardship – such as claiming through a benevolent fund or charity.
Seemingly HMRC has only 36 operational microfiche machines and even those break down frequently, sparking hunts for rare replacement parts or engineers with the skills to fit them.
Thompson is quoted by the Guardian:
“We do recognise that it is a problem for us. We visited Newcastle last Friday where this work takes place.
The records are essentially people’s national insurance records, which identify their employer and allow them to open up potential insurance claims against their employer for previous histories. The challenge we have is that these records go back several decades to when records were kept in a very different way. The majority of these records from before the mid-1970s are on microfiche.
The microfiche records from the 1940s and 1950s are very hard to access but we need to think about what we can do. The machines necessary to identify the issue aren’t made any more. We need to scour various parts of the internet to repair the machines in order to be able to provide the service.”I thought that part of HMRC's digital vision was to transfer old records into digital databases?
That being said, surely NI records etc (wrt compensation claims) are DWP responsibility?
Tax does have to be taxing.
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