Delays, what delays?

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    MPs deluged with complaints over tax credit delays

    Phillip Inman
    Tuesday April 8, 2003
    The Guardian

    Opposition MPs yesterday accused the government of failing low income families following revelations that claimants of new means-tested benefits faced delays and miscalculations that could plunge them into debt.
    MPs said they had been deluged with complaints from constituents who have claimed the working tax credit and child tax credit and been told they might need to wait until May before they are paid.
    Many filled in claim forms last October but have yet to find out how the new tax credits will affect their income. The child tax credit is due to top up the incomes of almost 90% of families, but it is believed only 4m forms have been returned to Inland Revenue.
    The credits took effect on April 5, when payments under the old working families tax credit and children’s tax credit were stopped. The chancellor, Gordon Brown, is expected to champion in his Budget speech on Wednesday the use of tax credits and means tested benefits to target welfare payments at people on low incomes and families.
    Inland Revenue officials have admitted that the agency’s call centres have been overwhelmed with queries from the public. Last week the revenue said it was diverting calls to other centres.
    Liberal Democrat spokesman Steve Webb said many of his constituents faced the prospect of cuts in their pay next month at a time of increases in national insurance and, in many areas, steep rises in council tax payments.
    “The government seems to have no problem when it comes to taking money off people, but when it comes to handing it out it seems to be a very different matter,” he said.
    “Gordon Brown will be re announcing the amount of money that he is putting into the new tax credits this week, but he must ensure that it actually reaches the families who deserve it.”
    The Conservative shadow secretary for work and pensions, David Willetts, said: “This has been a logistical nightmare for the Inland Revenue. When they gave evidence to the Treasury select committee, revenue officials said implementing the new tax credits was eight times more complicated than self-assessment. That shows how complicated it must be to process the tax, increasing the potential for errors.”
    Inland Revenue said: “We are prioritising the setting up of awards to help people get their money. That means in some cases, where people have applied very recently for example, they will be paid first and the award notices will follow in a day or two.”


    Double-barrelled surname costs disabled mother £190 a week
    By Benedict Brogan, Political Correspondent
    (Filed: 14/04/2003)

    A disabled mother of three has been barred from receiving tax credits worth £190 a week because she is among hundreds of claimants whose double-barrel surnames are not recognised by Government computers.

    Sue Evan-Jones has fought for more than three months to persuade the Inland Revenue that her surname has two parts after she was told the system was confused by hyphens.

    Her case will be seized on as a fresh example of what critics say is Gordon Brown’s war against the middle classes, who this month will begin to feel the effect of a succession of council and income tax rises.

    Mrs Evan-Jones lives in Yate, Glos, with her husband David, a computer engineer with Avon and Somerset Constabulary, and her sons Luc, 15, and Marc, 12, who are autistic.

    Last November she filled in detailed forms to apply for the Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which replaced the Working Families Tax Credit this month.

    The new scheme has been dogged by problems as claimants struggle to navigate the complexity of the paperwork. Despite a £12 million campaign to promote the system, up to two million of the five million families eligible have failed to submit an application.

    Mrs Evan-Jones became concerned when the revenue told her that it had no record of the existence of her children even though she and her sons are registered as disabled and already in receipt of tax credits.

    When she called the helpline she discovered that the Government’s computers had registered her and her family as Jones. She was told that the systems were unable to recognise a hyphen.

    Since then she has telephoned the helpline twice a week to try to have the problem cleared, but has still not been approved for credits worth about £190 a week.

    “This is causing us huge problems. My husband is now paying more in National Insurance contributions, so we need this help even more than before to make ends meet,” she said.

    Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman who is also her MP, last night urged the Government to prioritise those applicants already in receipt of tax credits who faced a sudden drop in income if their new claims were not processed quickly enough.

    “This is a taster of what is to come. It’s a scheme that looked good on a drawing board in the Treasury but implementing it on the ground is another matter,” he said.

    “If it weren’t so serious it would be laughable. Saying computers don’t recognise hyphens is just one of the fantastical excuses I have heard that the Revenue are putting out. It’s clear to me that they can’t cope with the claims they have had.”

    Last night Mrs Evan-Jones blamed the system’s refusal to acknowledge her double-barrel name on the poor education of Inland Revenue workers, who she said were ignorant of the rules of punctuation.

    “I had never thought that a hyphen would cause so much trouble. I told them I could change my name but they said that would cause far more trouble,” she said.


    This month’s changes to the two main planks in Labour’s anti-poverty programme are among the biggest shifts in welfare reform since the Beveridge plan was implemented over 50 years ago. The scale of the operation was always going to cause problems. The scope of the tax credit programme has been widened, eligibility increased and an extra £2.5bn invested this year in child support alone. Where once working family tax credit was restricted to families with children, the new working tax credit now embraces couples without children too. The new child tax credit (CTC), which brings together four in-work and out-of- work benefits that low-income parents receive, has been widened so that over 5 million families are now eligible. But the switchover has been far from smooth.
    Some trouble was unavoidable. Like any major change to welfare, there were winners and losers. And true to form, while the losers have been screaming loudly, the winners have hardly peeped up at all. But the troubles are more serious than just “running in” problems. Hundreds of thousands of eligible people have still not registered for the tax credits and hundreds of thousands of others, who have belatedly tried, have found it difficult, and often impossible, to get through to Inland Revenue’s call centres handling inquiries. Only 2.6 million out of the 5 million-plus families eligible for CTCs had applied by the January 31 deadline – and even by this month only 3.9 million had applied. Despite an extra 700 staff drafted last week to dedicated call centres to handle an expected 200,000 extra calls, tens of thousands were unable to get through.

    What should happen now? Labour must be honest about the poor launch. Denial would be quickly punctured, and defensiveness will not resolve anything. There is nothing wrong with the main architecture. Ministers were right to concentrate on income-related benefits, which are by far the most effective means of helping the poor. It was right to insist that CTC should be paid to the main carer, which will usually be the mother, that means working fathers will see a dip in their pay. But they will have to tackle take-up in a much more robust manner. There have been wide publicity campaigns, but an older approach might be better: beefed up local welfare teams that actively go out and find the eligible. Without higher take-up, ministers will miss their admirable anti-poverty goals.


    Thousands of low income families are still waiting this weekend for emergency tax credit payments after a month of chaos at the Inland Revenue has left them almost penniless.
    The government claims only “a tiny percentage” of families have been left without cash this month following the introduction of the new tax credits, but Jobs & Money has been inundated by readers saying they will be forced into debt unless the cash turns up soon.

    Wendy Ball of Brighton says she could lose her tenancy if the benefits fail to arrive in her bank account in the next week. She adds: “It is getting to the point of being evicted from my home.”

    In-work benefits can make up half the income of many families claiming the new working tax credit and child tax credit but bungling and mismanagement at the Revenue has ensured that many have not seen a penny this month. Almost four million applications have been sent to the Revenue. In the house of commons last week, the treasury minister Dawn Primarolo said the government could only guarantee paying the 2.6m applications received by January 31.

    Ms Ball, a single parent who works for her local council, says she sent her form in last October. She received a letter this week telling her that an emergency payment for £115.78 would be paid into her bank account, but when she checked her account there was only £78.

    “I’ve tried to ring the Revenue to find out what is going on but I just get cut off after a faint voice says there is no one to answer my call and to ring back.”

    The switch was supposed to happen smoothly on April 5. But a catalogue of errors by Inland Revenue staff and the overly complicated rules governing the new credits has delayed payments.

    Calls to the Inland Revenue helplines have proved fruitless, say claimants, despite the redeployment of 700 call centre staff last week by the Revenue. It says its three call centres have received 200,000 more calls than expected.

    Others, like Ms Ball, have received half the cash they have been told to expect. Tove Da Lenius of Leicester has three children (Iman, 10, Ilhaam, 6, and Hawa, 3) and a nursery bill that runs to £500 a month. She doesn’t know if she can afford to pay the bills because she has yet to receive an award notice and has failed to get through to the helplines.

    She says she may be forced to stop working as a community arts worker unless the money she received under the old system continues to top up her £5,000 self-employed earnings.

    The Revenue has promised to pay emergency giros to individuals who go to their nearest tax office. Unfortunately, benefit advice centres report that local tax offices operate a different computer system to the tax credit centre in Preston and are forced to send faxes to Preston to confirm payments. “Just like phone calls from Joe Public, these faxes can’t get through,” says one advice worker.

    MPs from all parties have told the government to devote more resources to sort out the chaotic situation. Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat shadow work and pensions minister, says: “The introduction of the new tax credit system has been farcical from the very start. The government has admitted as much and must now act.”

    A spokesman for the Revenue says: “The Inland Revenue is very sorry that people have had problems getting through to the helpline. Two-thirds of all claimants have chosen to receive their payment every four weeks. If they sent their claim to us by 31 January and there are no outstanding enquiries they can expect to receive their first payments by 2 May.

    “Assuming no enquiries, the vast majority of those to be paid weekly who claimed by 31 January will either have received their money or will get it in the next couple of days.”


    Tax credit chaos

    THE government has admitted that 1m families have been overpaid tax credits and will have to repay the money. The payments were based on out-of-date figures. Labour has also admitted that fewer than half of the 5.75m people entitled to new credits will get them on time this month.

    Comment: Naomi Caine: There is no credit due to the taxman

    IS IT just me, or is the Inland Revenue totally inept? It admits that it cannot always get our tax calculations right when we send in our self- assessment forms. It took forever to get its online filing system sorted out and then went on to bungle the Serps rebates of some taxpayers.
    Now it is making a pig’s ear of the new tax credits.

    People cannot get through to the helpline; there are delays in the payment of the credits — and some families have been given the wrong amount. It doesn’t inspire you with confidence, does it? The Revenue is set to crack down even harder on people who file their returns late, or do not pay the right amount of tax. It can therefore expect no sympathy from the taxpayer over this latest fiasco.

    The unforgiving system of penalties and interest charges for late payment of money due should apply to the oppressor as well as the victim.


    Families lose out in tax farce
    Sean Poulter, Daily Mail
    16 April 2003

    MILLIONS of families face losing money as the Government’s new tax credit system descends into a shambles. Worried parents say cash needed to raise children and meet bills has not been paid into their bank accounts as promised.

    Fewer than half the 5.75m families entitled to the tax credit payments are guaranteed to receive them on time this month. The result is that families could be missing £200 to £300 a month. The problems coincide with an increase in National Insurance payments, which has already substantially cut the take-home pay of millions of workers.

    There are also concerns that at least 500,000 families entitled to tax credits have simply gone ‘missing’ from the system. A telephone helpline set up to deal with inquiries about the new regime has collapsed under the weight of calls. Last night, the Inland Revenue said it has appointed 700 extra staff to help the 2,000 workers originally designated to handle calls.

    So serious is the situation that officials have drawn up contingency plans to hand out Giro cheques to families at local tax offices.

    But the new payment regime – drawn up on the orders of Chancellor Gordon Brown in an attempt to merge the tax and benefits system – risks being totally discredited.

    The Government claims nine out of ten families with children, including all households with an income up to £58,000, will benefit from the new Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

    However, problems have dogged the decision to put an end to the tax allowances which were previously used to help families, particularly those with children. Instead, this money is being collected by the taxman and then paid directly to carers – mainly mothers – through their bank accounts. This is separate to child benefit.

    The first part of this equation has happened, effectively cutting the take-home pay of fathers. But the second element, making sure money goes to mothers, appears to have broken down.

    The Inland Revenue has so far received 3.9m applications for the tax credits. However, it said payments could be guaranteed on time only to the 2.6m who applied before 31 January.

    Some 1.3m will automatically be awarded money under the new regime without having to make a formal application. However, there are approximately 525,000 families who are missing from the system. This group is entitled to claim the tax credits, but has not done so.

    The problems arose because the Inland Revenue failed to give families sufficient warning of the changes and time to make their applications.

    Application packs went out only last August and families were expected to get to grips with the forms – criticised as being confusing – and return them by January Just 2.6m of the 5.75m potential applicants met the deadline, while the Government helpline was unable to cope with the flood of calls from families who could not understand the forms or how to claim.

    Conservative work and pensions secretary David Willetts said: ‘This is just a shambles. The Inland Revenue has been changed from a taxation department to a benefits department and it clearly cannot cope.

    ‘My own research demonstrates that the so-called helpline has effectively collapsed. People either cannot get through at all, or they are faced with a 20 to 30-minute wait on hold.

    ‘Millions of middle and low income families who are legally to these tax credit paymentsare not getting the money they have been promised.

    Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Steve Webb said: ‘The scheme probably looked good on a blackboard at the Treasury, but it did not take into account the complexities of individual families. The Inland Revenue plainly cannot cope, but this is just the beginning of the saga.

    ‘Every time someone’s circumstances change, they will have to inform the Inland Revenue and be reassessed. This is a recipe for confusion and chaos.’

    An Inland Revenue spokesman said: ‘We are aware that people were not getting through to the helpline as easily as they would like. We do regret that and we are sorry for that.’ He said the helpline, which operates seven days a week, will be in action over Easter, other than on Easter Sunday.

    He added: ‘We did say that provided applications were made by 31 January, there would be a smooth transition to the new system of tax credits. With applications after that date, we will do everything we possibly can to make sure payments get out as soon as possible.’

    I’ve been forced to borrow money
    SINGLE mother Kate Rolling, 30, from Winchester, Hampshire, earns £11,000 a year as a graphic designer, She has a nine-year-old son, Jake.

    Under the old tax credit scheme, she received £115 a week, but the payments stopped on 7 April. She said: ‘I absolutely depend on this money. It pays for my child care. I sent in my application in December and have been checking by phone since January that it had been recorded, which it had.

    ‘But I have had no notification when I would get it. I spent two and a half hours yesterday trying to get through to the helpline. When I did get through, I was kept on hold for 20 minutes.

    ‘The woman told me she didn’t know when I would get the money and she couldn’t check my details because they were giving priority to people who hadn’t filled in the form properly. It’s just madness. I have been left high and dry. I have had to borrow money off my mother.’

    Sue Evan-Jones and her husband David, 54, a computer engineer for Avon and Somerset police, live in Yate, Gloucestershire, with their sons Luc, 15, and Marc, 12. Mrs Evan-Jones, who is disabled and does not work, filled in the forms in November and is due to receive credits of about £190 a week.

    But despite numerous calls to the helpline, the application has still not been processed. She said: ‘This is causing us huge problems. My husband is now paying more in National Insurance, so we need help even more.

    ‘Each time I talk to somebody, they say it is being processed and that we’ll have it in two weeks. This has been going on since January. It’s typical of the Government. They bring in this new scheme but don’t think it out.’


    Families pay out in credits chaos
    Sean Poulter, Daily Mail
    17 April 2003

    DESPERATE families caught in the chaos of the Government’s new tax credit system are having their cash problems made worse by the official helpline.

    Daytime calls to the Inland Revenue line cost 3p a minute. With many mothers having to make 20 or 30 calls, often holding on for up to half an hour, bills rapidly mount.

    One woman has spent more than 84 hours on the helpline since the turn of the year, running up a bill of more than £150 as she tries to sort out her child tax credit payments. Others have seen phone bills inflated by £30, £40 or £50.

    Many families say the helpline has been useless in any case, claiming they have been ‘fobbed off’ or simply lied to. Thousands of calls are also going astray. Homes and businesses with similar numbers across the country have been inundated.

    Cash from the calls goes to BT, which also collects a subsidy on some calls from the Inland Revenue. Tory spokesman David Willetts said: ‘Many of the people affected are trying to manage on very low incomes.

    ‘The incompetence of the government and Inland Revenue is potentially costing £100 a week and they can ill afford a higher phone bill as well.’

    The call centres handling the system were also in a state of chao. One Revenue worker told the Daily Mail: ‘The calls are coming through at such a rate of knots. It’s bedlam. One of the helpline staff walked out because they just couldn’t take it anymore. People are swearing and asking where their money is and you feel sorry for them because they really need that money. It is really stressful and awful.’

    The Inland Revenue has brought in 700 extra staff to help the 2,000 manning the phones, but many callers still find the helpline permanently engaged.

    Treasury officials have been in crisis talks with the Revenue over the introduction of the the Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit regime.

    Some 5.75m families are eligible for the tax credits, but, so far, just 2.4m applications have been processed. Thousands of families are already short of the money they need to pay mortgagages and crucial bills.

    Some have been refused free prescriptions and eye tests because they do not have letters confirming they are receiving the tax credits. Contingency plans have been drawn up to issue giro cheques at local tax offices to families in desperate need. But the offices will be closed for four days over Easter.

    Welfare groups condemned the decision to hurry in the new system, complaining that application forms were too complex.

    The Family Welfare Association said the Government had not allowed enough time for families to apply. Many had been baffled by the complex 12-page application forms. Director Helen Dent said: ‘Families can’t live without money to buy food. Those on low incomes will not have enough money to pay their bills. Eventually the money will come through, but now they are begging and borrowing from relatives. The National Council for One Parent Families called on the Government to bring in emergency measures to help the poorest families.

    Helpline staff have told callers that computer problems are at least partially to blame. The system was set up by U.S. technology giant EDS, which has been implicated in a series of UK government computer foul-ups.

    The Working Tax Credit, the second part of Gordon Brown’s reform package, is also heading for delays. The credit is intended to provide cash support, typically worth around £25 a week, to around a million single people and couples without children in low-paid jobs.

    But Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo said in a Commons written answer that thousands of employers are only now being given the coding information they need to calculate how much to put into wage packets. The old Working Families Tax Credit was abolished at the end of March but the communications failure is delaying payments under the new system.


    What about interest on the money ‘borrowed’ by the govt? Not only are they getting more due to the change in my tax code, they’re not replacing it with the money it was supposed to be replaced with. That’s loan-sharking.
    steve , UK

    Would we tolerate it if a commercial company, say a bank, made such a mess of delivering its service that it causes financial hardship, debt and stress to its consumers. I think not. So why do we allow the Inland Revenue to continue to make a mess of its implemetation of the Tax Credit system ? Write to your MP, get questions asked in the House of Commons, demand an enquiry into this fiasco. Ever had to pay interest to the Inland Revenue when settling your tax bill. Surely the Inland Revenue will pay interest on late payments of Tax Credit !
    Jef Dijkman, England

    I applied online in February just after the birth of my 2nd child as I thought there might be confusion if I applied for the standard rate and then re-applied for the “enhanced” rate for those of us with a child under 12 months later on. Surprisingly enough, I received my £20.00 a week directly into my bank account with no problem at all. Having read all the other comments here, I must be one of the few lucky ones. Tony, Kent.
    Tony, England

    It’s a disgrace people who very much depend on this money have to suffer for the goverment’s incompetence

    Karen, England
    I have also been trying for nearly two weeks to speak to someone, I was unable to pay some bills, I am really getting worried now,being on your own with two kids is hard enough, as a lot of people will know. they have to sort this out NOW!
    Wilma Cameron, Scotland

    I completed my form back in October, couple of weeks later received a letter confirming they had received it and award notice would be sent at the start of January. I still haven’t received it. Called the IR helpline after constantly being cut off and pressing redial finally got through to speak to someone who said to check with the bank to see if the payments had gone in. Appalling set up they can’t tell you on the phone what you will get unless you can tell them what you put on the form, can’t tell you when the award notice will be sent out and can’t tell you when you will be paid it. It’s a disgrace people who very much depend on this money have to suffer for the goverments incompetence.
    Karen, England

    I got notification of how much we would receive, but my income is now lower than that used to calculate the amount. I called the helpline (and got through!) I gave them the new information and what my new salary is and following the call they said the new information had been recorded, so I just expected a revised notice. Lo and behold, last week my husband got a new application form to fill in. What is going on?
    Shirley, Bromley, England

    The helpline is always busy, what’s going on?
    Heath, West Yorkshire

    I have also experienced problems with WFTC, reciving a letter indicating when money would be put into the bank but come the day, no money. Although I must say we had no problems getting through and the person on the other end was very helpful. However, there is no talk of refunding bank charges for being overdrawn in the meantime, with a young baby, we don’t need this type of financial pressure.
    Ross MacIntyre, Scottland

    Two years ago they helped me get back to work now I feel I may be in a worse situation

    Amanda, England
    The customer help line is useless. They don’t have the facilities to help you! You wait half an hour to get through (if your lucky) only to be told that they can’t check anything and it appears that no one can help you because when I asked to speak to someone who can help I was told there was no such person or department!
    Andrew, Wales

    I applied for the new tax credit in November and have been claiming for the last two years while I have been working. I’m a single parent and only earn £154.00 a week yet my childcare costs are £95 which I have had help with. Without this help it leaves me only £60 a week to look after my daughter and pay for all the bills. The way my old payments work out I was due one last week as I only got £250.00 on last months pay which doesnt even cover my childcare costs. Now I am overdrawn on the bank through direct debits and simply cannot afford the childcare costs aswell as my other costs. Whenever I try to ring it is always engaged and I know I’m not alone as a friend who works for a telephone company has been inundated with phonecalls from worried parents like myself to see if there is a fault on the line. If this continues and I still do not receive any correspondence from the Inland Revenue I may be forced to leave work and what do I do then as I have not got anyone to help and the benefits will not pay my mortgage. Two years ago they helped me get back to work now I feel I may be in a worse situation as I have now bought my own house and do not want to give up my job.
    AMANDA , England

    I’ve been trying to ring for about 5 weeks. Never got through to a person.
    Dave Pashby, UK

    I too am experiencing major problems. We haven’t received our award notification and no money. We are now overdrawn on our bank account and it has put us in financially difficulty, not to mention all the stress and worry it has caused. The phone lines are jammed and even if I get through there is no information. I am appalled at the way in which the whole thing has been handled. If the old system was in place – there wouldn’t be this problem. People depend on this money – by saying we will hear from them eventually (the date of which keeps getting put further and further back) is simply not good enough. Families are suffering because of this.
    Marie Hemsley, England

    The Government could have spent some money on processing the forms more quickly instead of a fancy advertising campaign

    Ian, Scotland
    I am not surprised that Ted is having problems. I applied in January as we already received WFTC and were reasonably sure we would still be entitled to help under the new system. I phoned at the beginning of March and was assured my application was on the system and was just awaiting the results of the benefit calculations. I phoned again on March 31st and was told that notices were coming out that week and not to worry. I still have not had the notification and cannot get through to the helpline despite trying regularly. Indeed I cannot even get into the waiting queue to find out what is happening. If we do not hear in a few days we will be in the same position as many others with bills to pay and no money. The revenue were quite happy to change my tax code months ago to reflect the child credit going to my wife but they don’t seem to want to pay this money either. The system means we are powerless unless we are lucky enough to get through to the helpline, but a friend of ours had to wait one hour 10 minutes on Sunday evening to speak to someone even when they had got into the queue! What a complete shambles… and then we will all have to fill out further forms by July to confirm this year’s income? I can’t see that going any smoother, why can’t they just leave the old system alone and adjust the benefit amounts? At least that worked.
    David Mayer, UK

    I can certainly echo Mr Duggans comments in your article. Both my wife and I have tried to contact the Inland Revenue at various times of the day in connection with the new tax credit without any success. This led us to believe (and now seemingly rightly so) that there was a problem in processing the applications. Not withstanding this fact if you believe the press and opposition parties, only one in about three people eligible have actually applied for the new tax credit. The process seems bad enough now, heaven knows how bad it would have been (is yet to be?) if the remaining two thirds of eligible people decide to apply.
    Disgruntled voter, England

    I got through after three days trying and was told I was likely to be paid before I received notification. However, I was also told my claim has still not been processed yet, and I applied early Jan!
    Dave, Bristol, U.K

    I applied online last September. Everyting went smoothly, but last weekend I received notification for the Inland Revenue with a new set of forms to fill in… Why should my child have to suffer?
    LS, England

    I was sent an acknowldgement of my claim form last November and since then nothing. It’s virtually impossible to get through to the helpline and when you do they just take your details and promise to get the Inland Revenue to call you back – which they never do.
    Stephen Jones, UK

    I sympathise with Mr Duggan – whilst I have received my confirmation a few days later I received another application form! It does make you wonder how well organised this process is when it means so much to so many.
    Mike Morgan, UK

    The whole system is a mess. I applied for the new tax credits weeks ago and haven’t even got an acknowledgement of the receipt of the completed form. On the other hand, I applied for Child Benefit at the same time and the application was processed very quickly. The Government could have spent some money on processing the forms more quickly instead of a fancy advertising campaign.
    Ian, Scotland

    I applied online on 9th Jan. No official confirmation to date of any payments due even though have chased since March. IR helpline just hangs up on you now! The fact that my tax return wasn’t delayed gives you a clue to where their priorities are…
    martin, UK

    Five days spent trying to get through to the”so-called helpline” totally without success. Always engaged. I sent all the completed forms back ages ago and also contacted the IR in February to notify my new circumstances, i.e. loss of my income. They advised I would receive a updated award notice with my current details, so I thought fine. But no my award notice does not show any updated details and I cannot contact them to rectify this, what on earth is going on? Under WFTC I was receiving £83.00 a week now I have been awarded nill!! due to the fact I was working during 2001-2! We are at our wits end!
    Mr John Linforth, UK

    Thank you for reporting about the new tax credit delay! At least now I know I’m not alone in this. Have the Inland Revenue forgotten that they have already altered people’s tax codes, so there will be less pay this month? Families can get in real financial trouble if this is not sorted soon!
    Rani Beaton, Scotland

    I originally applied back in November after the birth of my first child. At the time I had to inform the revenue of my salary and my wifes salary for the 2001-2002 tax year. At the start if March I received an award notice saying I would get nothing, but as my wife is not working anymore we are eligible for tax credit. I called the IR helpline and told them my wife was not working, and they informed me I would receive a new award notice within 2 weeks. 6 weeks later nothing has appear other than a new blank Tax credit form! I have since tried to call the IR, but it’s impossible to get through. What ever time of day I try and Call the Tax Credits help line I get the engaged tone. It’s crazy! I dread to think what would have happened if everyone eligible for tax credit had applied!
    Matthew Bailey, England

    Being of anxious nature my wife and I filled in our application in November. After numerous problems with the online application we reverted back to the paper copy which we duly sent. We received acknowledgement of receipt two weeks later, got contacted by phone three weeks later about further questions, and were told then that everything was fine and that the application would be processed soon. Come Mid-march we received an application form to fill-in!!!! I contacted them and they told me to ignore the latest form, that it was a computer error and that thousands of forms had been sent to people (I daren’t think how much money is being wasted). To date I still haven’t received any notification. It’s extremely difficult to get through on their helpline number and when you eventually do, people from the Inland Revenue can not actually check any of your details whilst you are on the phone to them, all they do is re-iterate explanations of delays. My wife and I still don’t know where we stand with regards to the new tax credits.
    Mr E Jean, UK

    I got a cheque for £1.49 – thanks a million Tony.
    Dave Thompson, UK

    Like LS, I applied online and wondered what had happened as my tax code has now been changed. This week I received set of forms to fill in. The IR is obviously not used to giving money out to people. What was wrong with the old system? If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.
    Lin, UK

    This whole system has turned into a farce yet the governement are refusing to acknowledge it publicly. My partner applied for the new credits in November, having received WFTC for over a year previous to that. In February she received an awards notice claiming she earned £0 in the previous year, giving her more money than she could ever have thought, but being honest she rang them to tell them of their error-big mistake! As a result of their mistake she was told her claim date was now in February and not November, and since then despite constant phonecalls she has received no awards notice and more importantly NO MONEY. This comes despite assurances by telephone that her weekly payment would be received during the last week (although on several diff dates!) by numerous different people yet instead because of government incompetence she is left with nothing and phone lines which are impossible to breach! Brilliant Mr Brown, just brilliant.
    as, n.ireland

    I can agree with all the people that have written already. I still have not recieved my award notice and am also waiting for back pay from my WFTC as i recently had another baby at the turn of the year which means that i am getting into debt. I also have been told that i wont get any money from the new WTC until the end of April, but my last payment from the WFTC was on April 1st, so what are my kids supposed to do for food and how am i supposed to pay for my childcare ??? Any suggestions tony, let me know !!!!!
    Rachel, UK

    The worrying thing is the people that need this money quickly. There is no way to work out who has greatest need in advance therefore people like Ted will suffer most.
    Tony O’Connell, uk

    I can only sympathise with people like Mr Duggan who are most severely affected by this idiotic new system. As a working, divorced father of two who looks after two teenagers for 50% of the time, I am a lot worse off under the new system. My main issues with the new system are as follows: the onus is now on the parent to claim the tax benefit, and to navigate their way through a maze of forms and procedures, with only an understaffed and helpline by way of assistance. Surely the Government must understand that the more dificult it is to claim something, the less people will claim it. Secondly, the new benefit can only be claimed by one parent, and not shared. This callously disregards all separated parents who have their children half the time. Thirdly, the claim form states that the benefit will be given to the person who looks after the kids most “usually the mother”. where is the impartiality in this? I believe that effectively linking the claim to household income is means testing to an unfair degree, and that the government should come clean about its motives for changing the system, or change it back to how it was.
    Clive Heys, uk

    Until 2002-3, I could get the childrens tax credit at the end of the tax year just by ticking a box on my tax return. This year I have to fill in a whole new complex form in advance or else, I am informed, I won’t get it. Progress? Please go back to the old system!
    Glen Carty, UK

    Why was it necessary to introduce this new system, no doubt at great expense ? If 9/10 people are eligible for the Child Tax Credit, why not just increase child benefit ? Money could be recovered from high earners by introduction of higher income tax if necessary. My family will really feel the pinch this summer is this payment is delayed, especially with much higher council tax to pay as well.
    Colin, UK

    This whole business of working tax credit is a bug joke. Firstly, I sent in my application just after Christmas, I contacted them at the end of February and they said they were processing my claim. For the past two weeks I have been unable to get through to their helpline…things are becoming quite desperate now, as I received no award letter or any money and being a single mum I need to pay a childminder whilst I work! Talk about forcing people back onto benefits!
    Nicky Williams, uk

    Oh dear what a complete mess. I applied online last October, got an acknowledgement (on-line), received a phone call about a month ago from the IR, query cleared up, then approx two weeks ago received…new set of forms! Why? As with everyone else, I have been unable to get through to the “help line” due to the “high demand”. So, l also don’t know if we will get Mr Browns wonderful tax credit this month.
    Derrick Neale, Woking, UK

    I applied online for Tax Credits in the middle of December last year and as yet haven’t even had a single letter from them telling me anything. I have called several times after trying for hours on end to get through and been told yes we have got your application and award notices are being sent out. This is disgraceful! I used to get WFT with no problems whatsoever!
    Fazal Aslam, Rochdale, UK

    What a nightmare this has all been? I too applied online and did infact receive my award notice but was incorrect so phoned the helpline as soon as I received it and was told that’s okay we will just amend it for you and send you new award well I waited and waited kept trying to phone helpline pressed number 3 to speak to advisor to be told that advisors busy and would be cut off! That is if and when i could get through. Eventually I did get through to a very stressed advisor who said they could not help and just to wait for reward in post. On Saturday just gone a letter from tax credits arrived thank goodness, but it was only a new set of forms to complete. Useless. With the old system it was so easy. I am a single parent who needs this money to survive from month to month but no-one seems to worry about this. I am just waiting now to see if my money will go into my account on the 27th April. I do doubt it very much.
    Mandy, Hants UK

    I completed the tax credit forms and sent them in a few months ago. Since then I have had a number of reminders that I haven’t submitted the new forms. These reminders – and the original forms – were addressed to me in my maiden name. As I’ve been married for 8 years I was quite surprised by this, but figured that my NI number would show I was one and the same person. I’ve tried ringing the helpline on a number of occasions at different times of the day, to check that everything’s going through, and have failed to get through to anyone. I haven’t received any notification from the Inland Revenue, other than to tell me that my tax code has been amended. How are we supposed to sort out problems or check the status of an application, when it’s impossible to contact anyone?
    LB, UK

    I applied back in October 2002, received ackwoledgement in October 2002, then last weekend got a set of new forms in the post, eventually got through the helpline and was told my original application is in the process. The whole system is a joke, why change it in the first place, they have reduced my Tax Code so I get £42 a month less, then get me to fill out a load of forms to give me £42 a month back it’s a joke.
    Tim, UK

    I totally disagree – I put my claim in about 2 months before the end of March as I was already in receipt of WFTC. I have already been receiving my payments for the new Childs Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit!
    Stacey Falconer, England

    Forms were sent in months ago , so there is no reason wht the benefits, should be late.
    Paul Krol, scotland

    I applied online last October, but did not receive the promised notification. Instead, I’ve received a further two application forms, and when you try and phone the Helpline you get a recorded message saying this number is experiencing very heavy traffic, please try later. And guess what message you get when you try again later!
    Kevin, England

    I have just found out that I will earn £95 less each month starting this month due to my changed tax code. However, I have still heard nothing about the new Child Tax Credit money that my wife should be awarded under the new system.
    Matthew Harffy, UK

    It is an absoulute disgrace. My wife had to change her details because she was made redundant and was forced to take a lower paid job. The phone line was permanently busy and the only time she could get through was when the computer system was down. She has been trying for months to get the extra money we are entitled to. Is this a clever ploy to stop people claiming I wonder?
    Neil, UK

    Because the tax credits were not paid to us this week it has caused our overdraft to go over our limit, so not only do the bank not pay our direct debits, but they have charged us £70 for the privelege. So because the government have really messed up with this, we have no money for Easter, and the bank gets £70 – it’s the banks that are going to win here, again! It’s very worrying and I have had to cancel ALL my direct debits. I’m not pleased.
    David, UK

    I applied online in November 2002 for the new child tax credit. Ive heard nothing. I can’t get through to the helpline, although they did say in march they had my application. I’m a widow, and I receive a small monthly pension from my late husbands firm and bereavement allowance – the extra would really help us! So much for Mr Brown’s new tax credit.
    Nicky Jarrett, england

    I too am having problems. I filled in a form last November and have not received a notification. Last week a new blank claim form came through the post. Repeated calls to the helpline have only resulted in tones or messages indicating that the line is busy. It is interesting that in the mean time the I. R. have managed to change my tax code without a hitch!
    Derek Porter, UK

    What was wrong with the old system? it appeared to work well so why does Mr Brown think it necessary to turn things on their head. I don’t think “the powers that be” realise how reliant some families are on this extra help.The staff at this IR are always very helpful and effidient but I too have been unable to get through and cannot afford to run up a big phone bill trying – I just hope it is sorted out very soon.
    JF, Birmingham, England

    I am currently listening to “Let it be” on the tax credit help line. Whether this is a request from the Inland Revenue I haven’t yet worked out. This is the 4th time I have tried to get an answer regarding the reward. My form was sent in during January. We had a letter to say they had not received the form and could I make a request for a new one. Since this puzzled me I rang up and was told that there was a section they were having trouble with. I managed to sort this out over the phone and was told we would receive an award letter by return. Three weeks later I am still waiting. The advice given during the last three phone calls was to phone back later, or I can’t get to that information from my screen. I have now been listening to, Vivaldi, The Beatles (let it be), Robbie Williams & Enya. Interspersed with the message “We are currently experiencing high call volumes….” Whilst I simpathise with the people on the end of the phone, a thorough investigation into what has gone wrong is needed and processes put in place that this type of problem does not occur again. Why I should think that is likely when any changes to NI or Tax system has always met with problems. Regards Andrew
    Andrew Ogley, England

    Why do they do this? Empire Building? Jobs For The Boys? Why not just cut effective taxation by cutting VAT and raising income tax thresholds to realistic levels, leaving the money in peoples pay packets so they do not need this “credit”, and pay a benefit only to those who actually need it? Of course, the politicians expect us to be GRATEFUL for this “credit”, and to vote them in again. Well maybe the british public are that stupid. I’m not.
    Mark, Wales

    I applied for CTC online in February. I then received a phone call in late March asking for further infomation – which I passed on. I was advised that my notification would be in the post within 2 weeks – I received another form to fill in a week ago! – I have tried to contact the IR since receiving the forms – but have yet to get through.
    Jayne Wragg, UK

    It’s the banks that are winning here and I sympathise with Marie when she says she is overdrawn, as this has caused our family to go over our overdraft limit, I now have to cancel all my direct debits. On top of that the bank has charged me fees amounting to just over a hundred pounds for returned direct debits, etc. I never had ANY problems with the old WFTC so why should our families have to suffer now? Another great British cock-up!
    Damian, UK

    I applied online in October last year, as I thought the earlier I’d apply the quicker I’d get notification. I’d called up the office numerous times to check on the progress and was told the only thing missing was a signature, as it was an online application but they would send me something to sign & it would be processed soon after. Still nothing..I have been trying to call for at least three weeks now but I always get a dead tone! My sister applied in february and had recieved her award letter & was told when the 1st payment would be made, this date has long gone & she is also in a dilemma about what to do next? My tax code has changed so my wages when I get them next week will no way be enough to cover all my bills let alone all my childcare fees! As it is also half term how are people supposed to cope with payments for play schemes during the holidays. It is Not acceptable.. .
    Janet, UK

    I was due to get a payment today but didnt get one I’m now worred that I might not get one soon or that they havent recieved my application. I’ve tried all week to get intouch with them but had no luck
    suzanne wcater, scotland


    I applied in October 2002 for the new system. The old credits ran out four weeks ago. I have heard nothing fom the IR and have had no notification. How can you claim an emergency payment without this. I have tried for four days in a row, all day long, to contact the so called helpline. All I get is an engaged tone?
    Helen Harris, England

    I have been receiving very efficiently ‘low income family tax credit’ for the last 3 years…in fact it doubles my wages as a school science technician…meaning that I can support myself and my two children. I applied for the new credits in October..and have heard nothing..I have been unable to speak to anyone on the help line…if you can get a line then after hanging on for says that the building has had to be evacuated and the line goes dead!I am now extremely concerned about what will happen to me..and by the sounds of it I am by no means the only one!.. My circumstances have not changed in any I find it hard to an existing ‘customer’ aaagh!! nothing to say really..just wanted to get it off my chest!
    Dina Adkins, england

    Tried to get through, only to be greeted by a pre-recorded message then cut off. Eventually got through to a human voice and was told the system was down try the following day, did so, managed to get a human voice and was told someone would phone back within 48 hours, that was 2 weeks ago and no phone call!!
    Lesley, Scotland


    I have also experienced problems with credit receiving a letter indicating when money would be put into the bank but come the day, no money. Although I must say we had no problems getting through and the person on the other end was very helpful. Jowever there is no talk of refunding bank charges for being overdrawn in the meantime, with a young baby, we don’t need this type of financial pressure.
    Ross MacIntyre, Scottland

    In short, a disgrace!
    David Price, England

    The helpline is always busy, what’s going on?
    Heath, West Yorkshire

    I got notification of how much we would receive, but my income is now lower than that used to calculate the amount. I called the helpline (and got through!) I gave them the new information and what my new salary is and following the call they said the new information had been recorded, so I just expected a revised notice. Lo and behold, last week my husband got a new application form to fill in. What is going on?
    Shirley, Bromley, England

    It’s a disgrace people who very much depend on this money have to suffer for the goverments incompetence.
    Karen, England

    I have also been trying for nearly 2 weeks to speak to someone, i was unable to pay some bills, i am realy getting worried now,being on your own with 2 kids is hard enough, as a lot of people will know. they have to sort this out NOW!
    Wilma Cameron, Scotland

    I applied just before January and received and were contacted a month later with a query. Nothing since. No notification. My circumstances changed 18 months ago meaning I have a much lower salary now. My working families tax credit was based on what i earn now, but the new tax credit is based on what i earned over a year ago. I have still not managed to get though to the helpline. I have received a payment in my bank account (but no indication where it came from) but it was £18 – my working families tax credit used to be £180. My income has just dropped 40%.
    Dave, Cornwall

    Would we tolerate it if a commercial company, say a bank, made such a mess of delivering its service that it causes financial hardship, debt and stress to its consumers. I think not. So why do we allow the Inland Revenue to continue to make a mess of its implemetation of the Tax Credit system ? Write to your MP, get questions asked in the House of Commons, demand an enquiry into this fiasco. Ever had to pay interest to the Inland Revenue when settling your tax bill. Surely the Inland Revenue will pay interest on late payments of Tax Credit !
    Jef Dijkman, England

    Further evidence of a new administrative process in absolute chaos….. I applied for Child Tax Credit months ago via the Internet route. All seemed in order and lo and behold the paperwork (somewhat hefty notification papers) arrived in the post telling me I was entitled to £40 a month. On Day 2, exactly same paperwork arrived addressed to my wife but with identical details. One week later, two more identical sets of notifications arrived in the post, one for myself and my wife. Two weeks later, yet again two more sets of notifications arrived. After six attempts I can reassure the Inland Revenue that I have got the message by now ( but please spare a thought for the tree it was printed on)
    Steve Clarke , UK

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit this but I applied for my forms late (beginning of March) and the IR actually ‘phoned me to chase them as I didn’t return them immediately! I’m not quite sure why they were concentrating on the forms that they HADN’T received, rather than the mountain in their “in tray”. I completed and returned the form and have already received notification of my payment. Having read the other messages posted on the website, I realise just how lucky I am!
    CD, England

    I’m in the same boat as everyone else, wondering who I should contact first to tell them I can’t afford to pay them this month. I have just faxed my MP a message via a website hoping that he can help, the Government set this up so it’s up to them to sort it out. Hopefully now it is ‘news’ the IR may at least respond to all the worried families.
    Rachel Williams, UK

    My wife & I applied for Tax Credits – we used to get WFTC, as I was unemployed and she was on maternity leave. Yet the forms ask for details of the tax year that we were both fully employed (me earning more than twice what I am on now!). We have been told that we will be rejected, but then to apply for a change of circumtances form! How long will this all take?? So far we have had a confirmation letter of receipt of the forms, and then a few weeks later a letter telling us not to miss out and to get our forms in!! It just seems too complicated and kids are expensive things to keep!
    Ian Tuckley-Skelton, England

    I have applied but been turned down. My entitlement is based on my earnings two years ago when I was earning a good wage. I am not so lucky now and would qualify for a substantial credit based on my current earnigs but as I was earning more two years ago I get nothing. It thought this was supposed to go to those who need it. Is this another one of Gordon’s promises but the small print is not quite as good?
    RA, Oxford, UK

    Not being a parent myself, I have had no experience with the CTC or WTC. However, after reading everyone’s comments today, I am absolutely appalled.
    Ali Newton, Uk

    Based on my workplace straw poll no-one has received their award notification. I submitted my claim in November ’02 and am still waiting, contacted IR, Jan, Feb, Mar and Apr now told that IR are focusing on making payments and that I may well receive payment before award notification comes through. Told to re-contact on 2nd May if no payment made – I guess that is if I can get through.
    Joanna, UK

    My partner was made redundant last November and hasn’t secured further employment as yet. I applied for the new tax credits but our claim was based on my earnings and supprisingly on my partners earnings made in the tax year 00/01 – even though I stated on the form about his unemployment. The initial advice from the help line was that we should notify the IL of his change in circumstances after we had received their initial assessment/decision. When I received their initial decision I notified them of our change of circumstances. Like everyone else I have tried to track my claim without any luck. I am feeling very let down as my initial claim was at the very beginning of the year!
    Jane , England

    As with everybody else I have found it impossible to get through to this helpline, they may have employed 700 additional staff but it would seem that they only have one phone line ! I have been trying to ask them if I am eligible for the benfits as I have split with my partner but still take a an active roll in looking after the children ( roughly 40 % of the time ) Should I be entitled to any Tax breaks or should the whole lot go to my partner ? Can anyone shed any light on this ? I will continue to try the “helpline” but I am not holding my breath
    Steve, UK

    I have apply for tax credit last January. LAst February I phoned helpline and asked about my application, they couldn’t help me, “the system was not working”. Since then I can’t get though, lines are allways busy, from 8AM to 8PM. To get things worst I received a new application form this week to fill in.
    Luis Pereira, UK

    There is never any delay in taking out the Tax and national insurance from your salary. Its just when they have got to give you something there are problems – strange that!!!
    Helen Goad, UK

    Like many others I am having terrible problems with IR. I filled in original form last October, then I seperated from my partner in Feb, filled in online form as my circumstances have changed. Called and was told they would take latest form which is fine and they had got it. No award notice yet, payday today and received less than ever due to new tax codes. Managed to get through and talk to someone and was told they were having problems, they didn’t expect so many claims and I was speaking to someone from a differnt department who could tell me nothing! If I don’t hear by May 2nd to call back! So I don’t know if they’ve done my award or when I will get any money, added to which problems with ex and CSA and I’ll be lucky to afford a phone to call them back on. Old system worked fine, this is a nightmare.
    Jan Lewis, UK

    I applied for Child Tax Credit in January when I was initially sent the forms – I did actually receive notification last month, so I am luckier than some, unfortunately I received another notification the other week telling me that they had made a mistake and would need to recalculate….However, there wasnt a delay when I was informed several months ago about my new tax code, surprise surprise!
    Jayne Robson, UK

    I strongly agree with all the comments. I have called for the last month, I have lost count of all the contradictory statements regarding my claim. Why not save all these comments and post them on to the inland revenue, with their name written on it. It’s scandalous.
    Paul Thurlow, UK

    I feel so angry on behalf of all these people. It amazes me that every time a new system is put into place by the government it is unable to cope with the number of applications it receives. This is yet another calamity that really should be externally reviewed but I fear as usual nothing will be done. I tell my kids to learn by their mistakes and not fall into the same trap again, if my eight year old daughter can understand this why can’t Tony’s Cronies understand it? Yet one more reason to leave rip-off Britain and move to a country with a fairer system!
    PM, England

    I have had a very painless process so far. I completed the form two months ago, sent it off and a month latter got a letter back telling me it had been accepted and my wife’s bank account would be credited. However, the dreaded form has once again dropped through my letter box. Is this the next tax year form already or is it a duplicate that can be ignored ?. Dare I try and phone the help line ?
    Alastair, Scotland

    Never mind delays… I wish I had never heard of the new Tax Credits. I am a full time carer for my disabled wife and applied after I received an unrequested form that said I should fill it in even though I received Income Support. Now that I have received my award, I have lost my Income Support, a proportion of my rent and coucil tax benefit, free prescriptions, free school meals et al. Now the literature says people on Income Support DO NOT NEED TO APPLY and that the benefits office will contact you direct but of course there is now no going back for us. No sign of the £20+ extra a week we pay out now either.
    Mr Adrian Lee, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

    I seem to be one of the few here who actually have recived the new tax credit. However they overpaid me because they requested my financial details from two years ago when I was not working! Now as a full time working single mum, I depend on these credits to be able to pay the 1/3 of my salary that goes on childcare costs. It seems to me that whoever thought this award system up is not a parent and does not realise how important this financial assistance is to all working parents. Getting it right FIRST TIME should have taken precedence above all else. PS. I received in total seven forms to complete!
    Elane, UK

    My take home pay has gone down this month like everyone elses – More council tax more NI etc. I have had no pay rise since 1997 but I still need to make sure my family is provided for – SO WHERE IS THE CHILD TAX CREDIT???? – I filled in the form at the end of last year and received another one this week. I CAN’T GET THROUGH ON THE HELPLINE SO WE DON@T EVEN KNOW IF AND WHEN MY PARTNER IS GOING TO GET THE TAX CREDIT. THIS IS MAD!!
    Andy, UK

    I am one of the lucky ones and I have recevied my award notice. However, a word of warning to anyone waiting on this money to pay bills at the end of the month, my first payment date is not until 2/5/03, two days too late to make the monthly payments. I would ask to change to weekly payments but I would never get it sorted in time so will have to grin and bare it.
    C Goldsmith, UK

    It has been a nightmare- I just sit and wait for the postman everyday. I have faith though and i hope they can sort us all out. ive lost £44.00 in my wage this month, but not got it from the tax credits side – please hurry up!!
    Tanver Khan , Bradford,UK

    We applied on-line in March, so I guess I shouldn’t expect anything soon. We’ve had one phone call from then asking to confirm our address. They had the wrong one, even though the correct one was filled in TWICE on the application form. We haven’t heard anything since. If I filed my tax return even one day late I would be fined!
    Richard, UK

    I applied online in January. When I submitted the form there was no acknowledgement email to say it had been received. A few weeks later I received a reminder, and then a couple of weeks after that, another. Worried, I rang the local Tax Office and was given a helpline number to ring. I rang this and was given another number, and then another and finally another. After the interminable ‘Menu’ options I eventualy spoke to a human being – who I must say was polite and helpful. He took my NI number and then told me that my application had indeed been received and I should get a letter next week (early March by now). Needless to say the only letters to arrive in the next month were 2 more reminders to apply! Just before trying yet again to speak to something other than a pre-recorded message, the letter finally arrived last week telling me that my claim was in order etc. Incensed at the fiasco, I went back to the web-site to try and find a telephone number to call – not a thing! , no way to actually voice your concerns or protest at the wasted money on needless reminders etc. All in all a poor experience and my deepest sympathies to those worse off then myself to whom this money is a life-saver.
    Pete F., UK

    I’ve not received my tax credit payment. My forms were completed in July last year. I’ve been phoning them for a month, got through after a long wait, and just been given the brush off. I’m not sure what to do. They could defintely post on the Net and say what is happening. How does one get interim payments?
    Tessa, UK

    My wife’s been trying to get through to the helpline since February (the application was made in September and all we’ve received since was a fresh form). She managed to get through once, only to be told the computer system was down. Every time since, she’s gone through the menus only to get a recorded message saying they can’t deal with anything. She finally managed to speak to someone today (in a different department). It seems they are concentrating on getting the weekly payments processed first, then they’ll deal with the monthlies. They expect to be paying us by 2 May, though written confirmation may take longer.
    Danny Colyer, UK

    Have to admit I’ve had no trouble getting through to the Helpline on three seperate occassions. Have received my award notice but I had to call up to change some details and await revised award so maybe this is where my troubles will start. You have to sympathise with the staff though (no I don’t work for the Inland Revenue!)
    JW, Coventry, UK

    Sorry to be unpopular but I have had no problem with the change over from the Working Tax to the new Child Tax. Every time I have rang I have got through, they have been helpful and my payments have been put in the bank on time!!
    Viv Wright, England

    Personally, I have had no problems claiming, and i wonder if everyone applied as early as they say!! Its easy to be over critical but it seems to me most people started applying in January, when this was well set in place last September
    mal goulding, uk

    I have the same problems, I have had no confirmation about what and how much tax credit I am eligible for.My wftc has now ended and I am left not knowing when my next payment will be. I have contacted the inland revenue after holding for long periods of time they advised me they would get someone to call me the next day but still I
    Natalie Hannon, East Sussex England

    Reading the comments here, not one person seems to have anything good to say about it. I applied as soon as I received my form last year, and got an acknowledgement. Nothing since. Received another form a few days back. Eventually got through on the phone line to be treated by someone who obviously had heard it all before. We need three things: a. this mess to be explained by the government b. this mess to be sorted out c. this mess to highlighted as much as possible by the media until something is sorted. I was told that we would get the money on 2nd May – the day after local elections. Think I know who I won’t vote for.
    Glyn Simpson, UK

    My husband and I sent the application form before Christmas. Then a few weeks ago, I telephoned the Inland Revenue helpline, eventually I got through. I had to explain to the person on the other end that I had since changed employers and the details were duly noted on the computer system, but they needed my husbands NI number. He telephoned them and sure enough gave them the relevant information. Imagine our surprise that a week later we received a call from the Inland Revenue, asking us why we hadn’t sent our form in, and had we received the reminder letter that they had sent. so much for their new computer system!! We were promised the notification mid-April – it still hasn’t arrived.
    Lorna Curnow, uk

    I applied for my tax credits at the beginning of January online, giving them plenty time to process the application. My first fears where started when my workmate (who applied online the same day) got his letter from the tax credits. Three weeks later I hadn’t any thing so I decided to ring the hotline, a week and a half later when i got through the gentleman on the line said I had a payment due on monday, so i gave them the benifit of the dought and went to the bank tuesday NO MONEY with a family of four on a low income the money comes in very handy, I have now had to use all my savings just so my family can have a decent easter holiday.
    Lee Stoneman, England

    I returned my form last Autumn and was sent a note confirming that the tax credit office had received it. However, I have heard nothing since then – until a completely new form arrived in the post on Friday for me to complete! I cannot get through on the so-called help line, so I have decided to write to the tax credit office and am sending a copy of the letter to my MP.
    Lynne Howard, England

    I have not received anything,I have been told that mine has not been worked out yet and will be paid a month in arrears.Its a pity I cant pay my income tax in arrears they would soon chase me.
    Amanda Brazendale, England

    I have been phoning the helpline daily for 6 weeks and got through once, only to be told that the system was down and could I try again later!!! What a farce.
    Rachel Gray, England

    It’s absoluitely disgusting. I shall also be contacting Blair and Brown to demand action.
    Chris Rolfe, UK

    I had no idea there was any problem with the new tax credits system until I checked my bank account this morning to see no money had been paid in. I am a single Mum with two children and as so many others rely heavily on that extra payment each two weeks to pay my bills. I will definately go overdrawn and if I do will the Inland Revenue pay the charges? If it is late in coming will it be back dated? If not are we expected to make up the shortfall? I gave up trying to get through to the helpline and now having read all the other comments dont think I will bother trying tomorow!
    Jackie Tranter, England

    I won’t receive any money before I next get paid at the end of the month, thus my income for this month has been suddenly and without warning been cut by a quarter. Had I been told more than a month ago when I phoned, that there were problems I could have budgeted to allow for it, but as it is I can’t. And I am one of the lucky ones, for many people the top ups in the form of wftc/tax credits form well over half their income. How are these people supposed to cope?
    Kam, England

    I sent my form at the begininng of Feb. I received a letter to say that they received my form. yet I still have not heard how much I will receive. When I try to phone and I get message saying that the lines are busy. What a disaster. I am sure we will be worse off.
    Ian Turnbull, UK

    Just a tip,do not choose option 3 on the help line.Go for option 5 if you want to speak to someone who can actually access your details.
    L.A, uk

    To me, this sum’s up the UK If it can be cocked-up it will be.
    Toby Cockburn, UK

    What is the point of this new system, I filled in the forms sent them off to meet the deadline, I must be one of the lucky ones I did recive notification of what we would get, only to be followed two weeks later by a new set of forms. After a week of phoning the help line to ask why the new forms I was told it is a fault in the system, each time a quality check is carried out the system sends out a new sent of forms quality? What a good way of of messing up a system that was working, Well done Tony!
    Andy, uk


    Watchdog slams tax credits launch

    The delays caused havoc for many low income families
    The government’s launch of tax credits was “nothing short of disastrous”, a House of Commons committee has said.
    Chairman Edward Leigh MP said the Inland Revenue should have been more realistic in planning and put together better contingency arrangements.

    The launch of tax credits in April 2003, a new style benefit payment, was marred by administrative delays.

    The bungles meant more than 400,000 payments were late, causing serious financial hardship to some claimants.

    Mr Leigh said: “It was nothing short of disastrous, with hundreds of thousands of claimants not paid on time, inevitable hardship for some, inconvenience to employers, and disruption to other parts of the Inland Revenue’s business.

    Overpayment concern

    The committee also urged the department to reduce the levels of overpayments, which were as high as £700m a year under the credits’ predecessor system.

    It should also explain to claimants how recovery of credit payments will impact on other benefits.

    Paul Twigg, welfare rights manager at the Child Poverty Action Group, said many of the overpyaments had been caused by official errors.

    They should have been told upfront about compensation

    Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA

    “Yet the Revenue has sought to recover the majority of these overpayments,” she said.

    The committee’s report also criticises compensation availalbe to people who lost out.

    At the time, the Revenue refused to set up a separate compensation scheme for people who had lost out or suffered distress because of the delays.

    Instead, it was up to claimants to voluntarily lodge claims through its standard complaints procudure, known as CP1.

    ‘Limited means’

    Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, said many people would have been at an automatic disadvantage, because they would not have known the scheme existed.

    “Tax credits are paid to many people on very low incomes, some of whom have very limited means. They should have been told upfront about compensation, so they could seek redress for financial losses and penalties caused by the Revenue’s delays.”

    The committee has said the Revenue should consider reviewing its position – and perhaps offer automatic compensation.

    “The department should monitor the effectiveness of their arrangements and, if the number being compensated in this way is unrealistically low, target such a campaign at those likely to have been most disadvantaged,” the report said.

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