HM Revenue & Customs chairman Paul Gray has quit after admitting his department has lost confidential information, including bank details of 25 million child benefit recipients.
Chancellor Alistair Darling told Parliament on Tuesday that it was an “extremely serious failure” on the part of HMRC but stressed there is no suggestion any identity theft has taken place and, if it has, assets will be protected.
Darling said 25 million people and 7.25 million families are affected, with names, dates of birth, child benefit numbers and bank account details among the data lost.
Gray offered his resignation last week after making the Government aware of the loss which occurred when two disks were transferred by unrecorded delivery to the National Audit Office without reaching their destination. It is the latest in a number of data gaffes by HMRC.
New FSA deputy chairman James Crosby was appointed by the Treasury in July 2006 to lead a review into identity management across Whitehall, including HMRC. It was supposed to report by Easter 2007 but has yet to do so.
Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: “The Chancellor has serious questions to answer and faces the huge task of restoring public confidence in his department.”
Informed Choice managing director Nick Bamford says: “The FSA is regularly pointing to our industry saying how careful we have to be with financial data and then we have the Government making available sensitive personal and financial information.”