A Tory heavy-hitter said workers with life-threatening diseases could miss out on compensation pay-outs because of failings by the taxman and today urged authorities to speed up the process.
Victims of occupational diseases can only claim compensation from employers once they have received a full record of their employment.
However, tax records are a vital part of evidencing staff working histories and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is currently taking 14 months to deliver such information in the majority of cases.
Chairman of the Treasury Committee Andrew Tyrie said words needed to turned into action:
HMRC’s efforts to reduce the delays in the production of work histories for genuine claimants must be translated into tangible results
Without that, those who suffer from life-threatening diseases may not be able to claim the compensation to which they are entitled.
The comments came after the latest correspondence between Tyrie and the chief exec of HMRC Jon Thompson. Such correspondence followed Thompson's appearance in front of the committee on 8 June.
The initial problem is many of HMRC's older records are held on microfiche and can only be accessed from storage in Newcastle.
Furthermore, according to HMRC the microfiche machines have been prone to breaking down and difficult to repair. Such technical issues prompted HMRC to explain why it was taking 14 months to deliver a copy of working records – Thompson said in June: "We recognise that it is a problem for us."
In July, Tyrie followed-up Thompson's statement in front of the committee that he would see "what [HMRC could] do to improve the service".
HMRC responded in August with a number of recommendations, including the removal of speculative claims that are not followed-up and prioritising certain serious life-threatening conditions.