How DO they get away with it?

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  • #19955

    From the BBC website:

    “After more than three years of correspondence with the Inland Revenue, we still have not been paid our Child Tax Credits for the first year! The IR fail to respond to our letters within their own required timeframes, have failed to properly deal with correspondence, have failed to take the matter to Appeal when asked to and have so far failed (despite their claim) to provide the ‘compromise’ that they claim they offered”.


    That’s probably a very valid complaint the individual has there.


    But personally I get a bit hacked off at the way the media homes in on weak points rather than attempting to provide a balanced view.

    Tax Credits and Pension Credits get a real bashing week in week out. Personally I think they are both real advances in the welfare state. Pension Credits have increased the income of millions of pensioners and Tax Credits provide serious chunks of cash to people in low paid work, making it more achievable to sustain family life in work. Fewer people can honestly say that they are “better off on benefits”. Tax Credits have changed that.

    One trick used by journalists and politicians alike is to accuse Pension Credits and Tax Credits of being “complicated”.

    Well so is the highway code. So are planning regs, job descriptions, common law, health and safety regs, video recorder instructions etc etc. So what?

    Then there is the means-testing criticism. Can we really afford a non-means tested welfare state? If you listened to media commentators you’d think we could. Means testing remains the only way to provide help to those that need it without bankrupting the nation.

    I’ve been involved in benefits since 1985. (well, 1977 if you count signing on the week I left school). I think Tax Credits and Pension Credits are the best benefits we have had by far since the Beveridge report in the 1940s.

    And yes there have been some horrendous mess-ups in the administration of them. But they are flagship benefits applied all at once accross an entire nation. Personally I defend them both despite the overpayment problems. I urge you all to do the same or god knows what we’ll get to replace them.



    Falls panting, across keyboard.


    But that is surely not the point Peter. The benefits themselves are fine and are helping a lot of people. The administration is the issue.

    The Pension Service do a decent job, although take-up is still a real concern.

    The Revenue is a completely different fish. I accept they did not really want the job, they have no experience in it and its no suprise they are making a right mess of it. Why politicians thought they would be any good I have no idea. The system is now riddled with fraud, official errors, confusion. The letters are confused and hopeless. Rights of appeal seem non-existant (no right of appeal against official error overpayments? Incredible!) Yet they were going to be the ones who showed the rest of us “amateurs” how to do it!

    What really, REALLY annoys me is this: Ministers sending the BFI into “poor performing” borough Council LA’s with a 2,000 caseload to produce vast reports at significant public expense when what they SHOULD be doing is going into the Revenue and finding out exactly what is going on there, making recommedations, identifying what fraud is going on etc.

    They wont let them in and to me, that stinks.


    OK Peter – Its a fair cop. I’ll come quietly.
    Clearly those double standards exist and are real morale drainers for hardworking LA staff. My rant just carried me away…

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