HMRC’s new mascot is not good news for pensioners (and others).

First published on 27 February 2024 by Alastair
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Snoopy, the dog owned by the perennially weary Charlie Brown, principal character in the Peanuts cartoon strip, could soon have a new home as the mascot for HMRC.

As reported in a number of the mainstream press (FT, Telegraph, Daily Mirror and others) the government decided last year that benefit claimants’ bank accounts should be constantly monitored to prevent fraud.  The plans are part of the digital protection and digital information bill and they will require banks to provide customer data to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) if they suggest a claimant may not meet the eligibility criteria for the benefit they are receiving. Snoopy really will be laughing all the way to the bank.

That said, it’s estimated some £8bn per annum is lost to fraud and overpayment, so we understand why this is being done, but it’s now been realised that this bill could lead to pensioners also having their bank accounts inspected. However, in a sign that some of our elected representatives are on the ball, a number of senior MPs think this is a “step too far” – given it’s much harder to claim a pension fraudulently. The Information Commissioner, John Edwards, wrote to ministers earlier this month, expressing his concern that the legislation does not provide appropriate safeguards. Another case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions….? 

Callum McKinnon, M&S Accountancy and Taxation Ltd


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