A flawed crackdown on tax credit fraud has revealed the Government's shameful attitude towards single mothers, Labour MPs have said.
The former shadow ministers attacked the Treasury and HMRC for deliberately targeting single parents, particularly mothers, with its controversial Concentrix contract.
Last month, the Government said Concentrix's contract to reduce fraud and error in the tax credits system would be terminated after claimants wrongly had their benefits scrapped.
In a Westminster Hall debate about the contract, Labour's former shadow work and pensions minister Kate Green, said: "It's clear that the deliberate intention of the contract was to target single parents on the basis of assumptions that they were living with a partner and not reporting it.
"It returns to attitudes of single women bringing up children that somehow they must not be respectable and they need to be investigated."
Labour's former shadow equalities minister Fiona Mactaggart, who led the debate, added: "This was a gendered contract.
"Constituents feel harassed, scared and pinned up as targets by the way that this has occurred. It's not acceptable in a civilised society to treat mothers in this manner."
She accused HMRC and the Treasury of providing "totally flimsy evidence" for the private company to investigate, insisting they should shoulder the blame for policy failures.
"The way we have treated the mums and dads who are bringing up the next generation on low pay has been shameful," she said.
"I think the responsibility fundamentally lies with the Treasury and the HMRC."
Ms Mactaggart added: "In effect, what they did was run a campaign against parents who were doing that terribly difficult job on their own of bringing up children and I think we should be ashamed of ourselves for targeting this group.
"I think we've been blaming Concentrix for using flimsy evidence when actually the source of that flimsy evidence is HMRC."