The National Audit Office has criticised HM Revenue & Customs for being too slow to provide data in relation to a VAT investigation, leaving not enough time for it to be scrutinised properly.
This morning, the NAO published a short report on the impact of legacy IT systems on HMRC’s VAT services.
Although largely positive about the system itself, the report says HMRC was still providing data in the “very late stages” of the inquiry, several months after it had been requested.
The report says: “For financial data, the late provision of data has prevented us from verifying costs and forming clear conclusions. For performance information, we saw indications that HMRC has a good set of data that it uses for day to day management. However, we were unable to confirm this finding or obtain sufficient data to allow us to conclude on the performance of the VAT services.
“The challenges we faced in obtaining data from HMRC suggest that it may face challenges in robustly planning for the longer term.”
The report says HMRC’s VAT IT systems are “robust and stable” and compliant with Government security standards.
But it adds that it will become increasingly difficult to find or retain people with the technical skills required to service the legacy systems.
An HMRC spokesman says: “HMRC provided NAO with a large amount of data for this study, and the majority was provided in good time. However, HMRC acknowledges it took longer than it should have to provide some of this data. This was for a variety of reasons, including that HMRC wanted to ensure all of the data was as robust as possible and that it was in a format that met the NAO’s needs.”