Personal Finance: Beating Chaos over Tax Credits

The Birmingham Post (England), May 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Personal Finance: Beating Chaos over Tax Credits


Byline: John Cranage

A ction has been promised to help thousands of Midland families hit by the chaos surrounding the launch of two new tax credits.

The roll-out of two new schemes, the working tax credit (WTC) and the child tax credit (CTC) has been dogged by delays and blunders that have resulted in many claimants not being paid at all and some being overpaid.

The mess forced Treasury minister Dawn Primarola to apologise to the House of Commons on behalf of the Inland Revenue while government spending watchdog the National Audit Office is investigating.

Problems centre on the fact that the introduction of the WTC and CTC has expanded the scope of government aid for the lower paid and has lifted eligibility for benefits up the income scale.

It is estimated that nearly six million families are now eligible for one or other of the credits - assistance that could add up to pounds 60 a week to their income. Problems and delays in dealing with applications have been particularly bad in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Merry Hill, Coventry, Leicester and Nottingham.

The scale of the problem is highlighted by the fact that nine million people attempted to call IR contact centres across the UK on one day alone, according to the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), which represents 10,000 tax office staff in the Midlands and East Anglia.

There has also been a huge rise in the number of taxpayers making inquiries at tax offices. In some cases offices have been shut to avoid chaotic overcrowding and ensure the safey of customers and staff.

Staff have borne the brunt of public anger over the failures of the new system while seeing their workload double, the union said. …

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