ICAEW requests inquiry into Child Benefit data loss

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The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) suggests that there should be a full independent inquiry into how HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) managed to lose the confidential details of 25 million Child Benefit claimants, adding that the management of HMRC needs to be improved if the lessons from this incident are to be learned.

Frank Haskew, head of the ICAEW Tax Faculty, said: We believe that as the person carrying the ultimate responsibility for HMRC, Paul Gray has taken the honourable course in resigning, but changing the chairman will not address the real issues that this raises.

"It is inevitable that searching questions will now be asked about the origins of this problem and we suspect that the answer is likely to be deep rooted and point to the need for a much wid...

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22nd Nov 2007 13:49

Casting stones in a brewery
The Durgan affair was a much bigger fiasco demonstrating widespread institutional incompetence and Michael Izza was, at best, personally careless, clueless and useless.

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22nd Nov 2007 14:31

Mike- you are talking rubbish
Mike, that is an incredibly stupid comment to make.

On so many levels.

For starters, Michael Izza was not in charge at the time of the 'Durgan fiasco', so your comment is ill informed, wrong, and unprofessional.

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22nd Nov 2007 14:44

Please dish-up all your remaining courses so that I may critically review your own knowledge and skill levels.

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By Anonymous
22nd Nov 2007 15:50

Who is Sarah Michaels?
At first I thought having replied to my earlier post https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=176056&d=1031&h=1021&f=1026&dateformat=%25o%20%25B%20%25Y she was a messenger from on high sent to correct the failings of we mere mortals who are in practice (and before anyone criticises me check out how rude she can be https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=158099

Unless she uses a different name she is neither chartered certified nor chartered.

If she would like to give her details I would be delighted to show her a glimpse of the real world.

Oh and by the way sweetie the fee doesn't exceed the 15% limit - my first words were "The fee is just under 10% of my fee income"

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23rd Nov 2007 21:46

To the point
I have heard and read much discussion and debate about the loss of data on the discs. Much comment about "procedures" and "not fit for purpose". But there are a few points which have yet to be raised, and which accountants dealing with HMRC on a daily basis are probably qualified to comment on - or at least interested in the answers.

First, in defence of the "R" part of HMRC, don't forget that this problem arises with the child benefit part of the service which has always been pretty much a law unto itself. That and the NIC boys, all former DSS, are well known as a communications black hole. I would imagine all HMIT (past and present - whatever they are called now) are as horrified as we are. For goodness sake, we can't get them (the Revenue) to speak to us on clients they hold a 64-8 for without both our and our client's address, postcode, date of birth, NI Nos (much use is most of that now!).

But on a more serious note, in my view, this goes directly to the point that we have all been making for the last few years. What sort of person is the service recruiting who is so incredibly STUPID (no other word will do) as to not comprehend the risks of their actions. I have a nine year old who would show greater insight.

Further, how on earth can the training procedures fail to inculcate the remotest understanding of the responsibilities of staff to their "customers" with regard to personal data. Even if you recruit poor quality staff, surely the training should bring them up to standard? Sadly not, as we suspected. Staff are trained merely in how to use the computer, which of course does all of the thinking for them (NOT) and is also too stupid to realise that allowing someone to download this lot onto a disc is a bit DIM.

So how do we know that some criminal mastermind has not broken into the office and downloaded the lot himself, given that it is technically possible. Or maybe they can hack in from the outside? When you start to think about what this actually says about systems and securiity it doesn't bear considering.Sorry, winding up to a rant.

I think it is essential that this issue is consdiered from a recruitment and training perspective and that the results of these deliberations are also reviewed in the wider context of HMRC's services. We know it makes sense.

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24th Nov 2007 12:43

The Durgan affair was another mammoth operational blunder.

Michael Izza had then been Chief Operating Officer for almost 30 months.

Graham Durgan had declared his (already well known) interest in EW.

ICAEW did not accuse Durgan of any sin of either commission or omission.

Someone, in a position of trust, leaked the story to the press.

Procedural failures, obviously serious, were found.

The so-called internal investigation merited a brief but useless verbal report.

ICAEW say this HMRC fiasco needs [proper] investigation.

I say the Durgan affair also needs proper and independent investigation.

Michael Izza should respond; or is it, in those famous words:
"our's not to make reply, our's not to reason why, our's but to do and die".

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By Anonymous
27th Nov 2007 08:11

I would have thought the first thing the ICAEW would be doing would have been to remind PWC what is meant by a conflict of interest? or does this not apply if you are big enough?

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27th Nov 2007 09:39

my god have you a bee in your bonnet - why are you so upset about this now IN ANY CASE IT BEARS ABSOLUTELY NO COMPAPARISON TO THE LOST DISKS SAGA

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27th Nov 2007 09:58

I think it is a shame
and not particularly ethical to hijack a perfectly valid topic for other purposes.

There are a lot of questions to answer about the way in which HMRC discharges its responsibilities with regard to personal information, and some concerns that there are systemic problems throughout Government. These cannot be answered without a full and independent enquiry.

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