Complaints regarding the 1999 cancellation of the Benefits Payment Card

Eleanor Shaikh made this Freedom of Information request to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

In May 1999, the Department for Trade and Industry announced it was abandoning the Benefits Payment Card project (also known as the Horizon project) at significant cost to the tax-payer due to years of delay and difficulty. As a consequence, the contract between ICL Pathway and Post Office Counters was re-negotiated to salvage some aspects of the project but without the participation of the Department for Social Security.

Write-off costs running into hundreds of millions of pounds, failure to put the new contract to tender, perceived project mis-management by all involved and lack of ministerial candour to the House were matters of serious concern at the time. In one Commons debate it was suggested that the Parliamentary Ombudsman should investigate.

Please can you disclose:

i) Was the Parliamentary Ombudsman asked to investigate any complaints pertaining to any aspect of the abandoned Benefits Payment Card/Horizon project?

(Complaints may have been levelled against the Department for Trade and Industry, Department for Social Security, HM Treasury or the Cabinet Office?)

ii) If so, please can you release any findings made by the Parliamentary Ombudsman in relation to the cancelled BPC/Horizon project?

Yours sincerely
Eleanor Shaikh

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Eleanor Shaikh

 

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and Health Service Ombudsman.

 

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Eleanor Shaikh

Dear InformationRights,

Please could you update me on the progress of my FOI which was submitted on 4th March 2021 concerning any complaints to the Parliamentary Ombudsman over the cancellation of the Benefits Payment Card in 1999. I appreciate you are experiencing delays due to Covid but are you able to give any further indication of how long this request may take to complete?

Many Thanks,

Yours sincerely,

Eleanor Shaikh

InformationRights, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Dear Ms Shaikh

PHSO reference FOI175
Your request for information

Thank you for your correspondence of 4th March 2021 in which you requested information from the PHSO. For reference, your request was for:

“i) Was the Parliamentary Ombudsman asked to investigate any complaints pertaining to any aspect of the abandoned Benefits Payment Card/Horizon project?

(Complaints may have been levelled against the Department for Trade and Industry, Department for Social Security, HM Treasury or the Cabinet Office?)

ii) If so, please can you release any findings made by the Parliamentary Ombudsman in relation to the cancelled BPC/Horizon project?”

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your request.

PHSO response

PHSO does not hold any information relevant to your request.

In an attempt to extract the information requested from our archives the following searches were carried out: Benefits Payment Card project; Horizon Project; Post Office Counter; Benefits Payment Card; Trade Industry. No information relevant to your request was found.

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Freedom of Information and Data Protection Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
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47 – 51 Mosley Street
Manchester M2 3HQ

Please note that the PHSO will not normally accept an application for internal review if it is received more than two months after the date that the reply was issued.

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The Information Commissioner’s Office
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SK9 5AF

https://ico.org.uk/

Information Rights Team
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
W: www.ombudsman.org.uk

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