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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2008 :  07:20:06  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
The Tax Credit Casualties have lots of supportive MPs, mainly from the Opposition, but also from Labour:

On 13th July 2008, In his regular Sunday Mirror column, Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and former Labour Party deputy leadership contender, called for all Tax Credit overpayments to be written off. The article, 'Go Easy On Tax Victims', states "It's time to wipe the slate clean on these so-called debts. Let's write them off - and make sure that the [Tax Credit] system really does do us credit."

Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, is preparing an Autumn debate.

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.

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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2008 :  08:57:19  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
In yesterday's Sun:

£8m tax credits paid to dead

BUNGLING benefits staff have paid out £8million in tax credits to DEAD PEOPLE, it was revealed yesterday. They kept pumping cash into bank accounts — then asked grieving relatives to pay it back.

Ministers admit the payments went out due to computer glitches and mistakes by officials.

Last year 180,000 Brits were asked to give back payments to dead loved ones — five-figure sums in some cases. Tories said the figures exposed serious flaws in the Prime Minister’s flagship tax credits system. Shadow Treasury chief secretary Philip Hammond said: “Gordon Brown hands out cash to the dead and takes it away from the living at a time when poverty is rising."

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Another Conservative who abhors the way overpayments are reclaimed. We do well with Opposition MPs, but still need to get them to put a full write-off of all non-fraudulent overpayments on their Manifestos. We need to tell them that we are looking for a party to vote for which will put right these abuses.

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2008 :  09:12:51  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
John Hemming, Lib Dem MP for Birmingham, Yardley, is very supportive of the TCC on the issue of annulled awards, or when people receive unjust tax credit recovery demands because of alleged failure to return renewal packs/annual declarations (which HMRC very commonly lose, or people don't complete because they belueve they are not in the system and don't wish to be):

Business of the House (27 Mar 2008)
John Hemming: Guidelines from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs relating to tax credits, which I believe are a wrong interpretation of the law, imply that people whose annual return is sent in late have to pay back all their tax credit. May we have a debate on the merits of that rather silly rule, which means that if an annual return is lost in the post, people have to repay all their tax credits?

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John Hemming is a good source of support if you are the victim of this maladministration, but since he can only deal directly with constituents or a National User Organisation which includes representation for his constituents, if you are not living in Birmingham Yardley, you may be best going through the Tax Credit Casualties to John if you are not getting justice. This would seem to be a legally challengeable issue! I will say no more at this stage.

He is a good supporter with legal knowledge, and attended our 'Voices of the victims' Westminster launch, and presented this booklet, together with our petition, with his colleague Darren Sanders, to Westminster when the TCC was declined an appointment to do so ourselves.

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 02/08/2008 :  09:34:33  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
This is by no means an exhaustive list of political supporters but a work in progress for you to add to when your own MPs come on board. Here's a few other supporters we have, with apologies where I have not specified constituency because it is not readily to hand. To the best of my knowledge my statements here are correct:

David Laws, Former Lib Dem Shadow Secretary for Children, Families and Schools, and MP for Yeovil. He has raised innumerable questions in the House and posed a serious challege to Dawn Primarolo, former Paymaster General, whom he once asked to resign.

Danny Alexander Lib Dem Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. Less challenging to the government than his predecessor David, but keen to see this abusive system changed.

George Osborne, Conservative Shadow Chancellor. Has highlighted the Illegal Recovery issue which caused such great embarrassment to the Financial secretary Jane Kennedy last summer, but which she was able to 'bury' by making her announcement at the end of session when there could be no debates and it was the 'silly season'. Has written to Alistair Darling for clarification of this whole debacle.

David Gauke, Conservative. Very proactive last winter in looking at the HMRC insider fraud issue with us. Attended the 'Voices of the Victims' Westminster launch.

Chris Grayling, Conservative, Epsom and Ewell. Supportive to his Tax Credit Casualty constituents.

Mark Hoban, Conservative MP, Fareham. In David Gauke's Shadow Treasury Team, and very supportive to the TCC. Attended the 'Voices of the Victims' Westminster launch.

David Willets, Conservative Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary. Has stated ‘… a Tory government would allow hundreds of thousands of low-income families to keep excessive child tax credits paid by the Treasury’. Supportive of local victims of the system.

Paul Goodman, Conservative MP. Has been very interested in the TCC and leads for the Conservatives (off the top of my head) on Tax Credit issues.

Peter Viggers, Conservative MP, Gosport. Has criticised the tax credit system in the past.

Roger Gale, Conservative MP. An early supporter of TCC with - I believe - some legal knowledge. If he were a Grand National horse I would be keen to see more of what he can do!

Andrew Turner, Conservative, Isle of Wight. Supportive to his constituents.

Michael Howard QC, Conservative. An early TCC supporter.

Penny Mordaunt Conservative Candidate for Portsmouth North. Very keen to see justice done and has worked hard with MP colleagues to get answers to Freedom of Information questions which HMRC and the government are equally keen to sidestep. Has given us tremendous support and seems to be the heir incumbent to Portsmouth North's marginal Labour seat. Very supportive of both Westminster TCC events.

Alistair Thompson Conservative Councillor, Hilsea Ward, Portsmouth. A colleague of Penny's who is similarly supportive.

Lynda Donaldson, Conservative Candidate, Rotherham. Keen to see this abusive system reformed.

Darren Sanders, Lib Dem Candidate, Portsmouth North. Has taken the TCC petition and Voices booklet to Downing Street on our behalf.

Mike Hancock, Lib Dem, Portsmouth South. A critic of the current tax credit system.

There are many more, of course, but I don't update my own lists as often as I should!! Please let's add political supporters to this thread as they come on board. (There will also be a separate thread shortly for 'Naming and Shaming' those MPs who 'couldn't give a damn'.)

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2008 :  06:55:01  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
I can see it's been deadly quiet in this section, probably because of the long summer break, but I am sure we are quietly building up our MP support, as the recent success stories we have received suggest. Thanks go to my MP Sarah McCarthy-Fry and her researcher Mark Willetts for agreeing to chase up with Gordon Brown his response to our ever-growing Petition and Voices of the Victims. I have asked not to simply receive the usual tired and inaccurate old mantra 'Tax Credits have helped six million people', and I have supplied Mark with details of the Petition as it stands at the moment, inviting some constructive response. Will post the response as soon as I have it.

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 14/09/2008 :  08:17:25  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Supportive MPs... well,there seem to be a few rebels in the Labour camp just now:

Brown fires ally over contest call
By Adrian Croft and Tim Castle, LONDON (Reuters) 13/09/2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, wrestling with an economic downturn and slumping popularity, fired a member of his government on Friday after she called for a leadership contest in the Labour Party.

Brown also faced a broadside from 12 Labour members of parliament, including former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who said Labour must set a bold new strategy and renew confidence in its economic competence.

The criticism was a setback to Brown, struggling to relaunch his premiership after a series of stinging election defeats led to speculation he could face a leadership challenge from a minister such as Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

It came at a crucial time, just over a week before the Labour Party faithful gather for the party's annual conference in Manchester, and revived talk of a possible challenge.

Siobhain McDonagh, one of the party managers responsible for making sure Labour members toe the government line in parliamentary votes, became the first member of the government to call publicly for a leadership contest.

"I think we need a leadership election. I think anybody who wants to stand should stand and we should have a discussion about what direction should the party be going in," McDonagh told the BBC.

McDonagh said she believed a "huge number" of Labour legislators wanted a leadership contest. She said she had nobody in mind as an alternative leader to Brown, but said there was a need to "clear the air".

Brown responded quickly by sacking her.


Brown, who took over as prime minister from Tony Blair less than 15 months ago, has faced growing disenchantment over his leadership as the credit crunch has hit the economy while rising energy and food prices squeeze families' budgets.

After 11 years in power, Labour lags the opposition Conservatives in opinion polls by about 20 points, although Brown does not have to call a general election until mid-2010.

A Labour Party source said McDonagh and a number of other Labour legislators, fewer than 10, had asked for papers to be sent out that are needed to launch a leadership contest.

The support of about 70 Labour legislators would be needed as the first step to triggering a contest at the conference.

Brown tried to relaunch his premiership this month by announcing measures to shore up the slumping housing market and to help people deal with high energy bills.

But a dozen Labour legislators, including a number of former ministers, penned an article for the Labour magazine "Progress" full of implied criticism of Brown's policies, although it did not attack the prime minister by name.

"One-off taxes and payouts ... do not amount to a strategy," they wrote, adding that Labour's most urgent task was to "renew confidence in our economic competence."

The Conservatives called for an early general election, saying the Labour Party was degenerating into civil war.

"At a time when Britain faces massive economic challenges it is profoundly damaging to have a government in such disarray," Conservative politician Chris Grayling said.

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Time to find out who these Labour rebels are and get writing to them?

(typo corrected)

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.

Edited by - Ali M-W on 14/09/2008 08:19:27
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Alan the Geordie

3032 Posts

Posted - 14/09/2008 :  14:12:04  Show Profile Send Alan the Geordie a Private Message
>>But a dozen Labour legislators, including a number of former ministers, penned an article for the Labour magazine "Progress" full of implied criticism of Brown's policies, although it did not attack the prime minister by name.<<

They didn't name him??

I'm amazed that these people manage to walk upright on two legs. What a bunch of spineless wonders!

Howay lads & lasses - get the useless, lying bugger named. shamed & on his bike back to Scotland!!

"Dave Anderson (Labour) MP for Blaydon for Prime Minister!!"
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 14/09/2008 :  16:36:48  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Fiona MacTaggart is not afraid to have 'an open competition':

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She sounds reasonable enough to me not to deserve expulsion from the party, tarring and feathering.

Seem she can be contacted by email:

By phone: 01753 518161

By Fax: 01753 550293

Or by writing to: Constituency Office, 29 Church Street, Slough, SL1 1PL

The rule is that MPs can't respond to non-constituents but they can have dialogue with members of national groups who also represent the interests of their own constituents.

Trinity: The answer is out there… and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2008 :  13:57:41  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Calling Rachel!! I know full well that David Laws has been supportive an inspirational in backing Rachel's dispute and questioning the frightingly-awful Jane Kennedy (and we thought Dawn Primarostrich was as inflexible and unforthcoming as they came!)about tax credit outrages. With greatest respect to Danny Alexander, it was a sad day for TCC and all tax credit claimants and casualties when David Laws left his Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary post to work with Children, Schools and Families, because he kept Labour Ministers on their toes about the tax credit system's outrages. Perhaps Rachel can tell us here why David Laws has been so great as a constituency MP? Then maybe we can encourage our own MPs to be as proactive as he has been...

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2008 :  07:37:16  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Rachel says: " David Laws is the only MP i know to care so deeply for tax credits victims,
He would fight to the death as he believes in supporting the HMRC casualties.
He knows only too well how the tax credits game works, and when last i spoke with him, 3 weeks ago he was passionately angry at HMRC's lies and deciets."

It's been a while since I last met David, with our TCC core group of the time, but he was the first Minister to put a link up from his own website to ours, and to send victims our way. He was then the Lib Dem Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions and his astute questioning of Primarolo and Blair showed he never missed a tax credit outrage.

Since then, George Osborne, Danny Alexander, and a few others have picked up the 'cause' of justice for tax credit overpayment victims, but David was indeed a hard act to follow.

My own New Labour MP, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, has helped me at times on an individual constituency level, but has never warmed to the TCC cause, and is very faithful to Gordon Brown. She has just been promoted to Undersecretary of State for Children, Families and Schools. Since the next post that David Laws picked up after leaving his Work and Pensions Secretary post for the Lib Dems - ie. to be Secretary of State for Children, Families and Schools - still gave him some scope to lay into the injustices of tax credits, let's hope that Sarah McCarthy-Fry will also have a certain critical eye for how the tax credit system 'works'...

Harder for her than David, of course, as Tax Credits were created by His Holiness the Brown, who is beyond reproach, but I will never give up trying to get my own MP to appreciate that tax credits have a vile, despicable and oppressive side that she never gets to see... I am going to write to her soon and ask that she invites herself to an HMRC office and asks to open samples of mail to see the kinds of things claimants are writing in to HMRC about. It is quite a job convincing a stauncly loyal labour MP with her career opening before her that those abuses she saw happening to me - which she will acknowledge - aren't just a one-off but repeated time and again for thousands if not millions of people across Britain, many of whom perhaps don't even know that they can fight and win...

Any readers of this - it is NEVER too late to dispute that recovery of your overpayment - even if you've had a CCJ you never knew about, or have breen bullied into paying the darned thing off. If you were honest, did everything you thought at the time you had to, and were victim of HMRC errors - you DO have a chance to dispute, even after the event. As long as you can argue that you only gave in because you were never told by HMRC or anyone else that it was possible to fight, then you can insist HMRC look again at your case and refund anything illegally collected!

Once word gets round that HMRC isn't immune from its past actions, there will be such a huge public outcry that NO MP will be able to pretend all is well, has always been well, and always will be well in the fairytale land of Tax Credits! That gingerbread cottage of plenty is actually a steaming mass of corruption, errors, lies, cover-ups and all manner of vileness that no-one in their right mind would willingly enter if they were truly told all!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2008 :  06:54:14  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Talking of that 'steaming mass of corruption, errors,lies, cover-ups and all manner of vileness', let me introduce the Tax Credit Casualties' new blog: You must be logged in to see this link.

Here WE can all tell our horror stories and THEY might just heed our suffering and DO something!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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40 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2008 :  22:44:23  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
I agree whole heartedly with your topic about supporive MP's, David Laws is indeed a hard act to follow,
I think because he has seen alot of his constituents get burned by the farce of HMRC, It's a joy to speak to an MP with good values and beliefs,
I think It would be more helpfull to the victims cause, if Mr Gordon Brown actually saw the victims and their suffering instead of him quite clearly sticking his large mallet of a head in the sand.
I'm so fed up of crackpot goverments scre*ing their county and it's people over and into the ground, because of greed,
They get enough money wage wise to live a more than comfy existance, and still they want more.
My husbands a postman, and his bosses want the staff to work harder and harder for their money, adding extra rounds on to already stretched, knackered overworked posties. The bosses are loaded, yet they still want more, so they cut services, lay off staff, put more work on the staff left yet still expect them to not book overtime.
I think power taints people, makes them greedy and corrupts their morals, Like Gordon Brown, well the whole labour party really, and HMRC all good examples of power hungry corrupted people who let the power go to their heads,
They should live in our world, skint, struggling and in deep debt.
A life they wouldn't have the strength to deal, with because people like gordon Brown are weak, Pathetic individuals

R.A. stirling
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 24/10/2008 :  06:56:39  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Wow! Don't faint, folks - but a LABOUR MP has written (a bit weirdly-worded, but his speech was good and the guy means well) an EDM asking for a bit more fairness in the tax credit system! I have taken my smelling salts and hopefully won't collapse with the shock. A LABOUR MP with anything less than completely complimentary to say about tax credits... Wonders will never cease.

I've always thought that we need Labour MPs to have a critical eye on tax credits, too, if we are every going to get anywhere in the life of this government. Anyway, I will post the speech below (with thabks to PJD for sending it my way) for you to enjoy:

22 Oct 2008 : Column 131WH

Tax Credit Overpayments
4.30 pm
Michael Jabez Foster (Hastings and Rye) (Lab): I am grateful for the opportunity to launch this debate on tax credits, and in particular on repayments by those who fail to fill in their forms on time. The introduction of tax credits has made a huge difference to thousands of families in my constituency. Tax credits have made it possible for people with disabilities or young children to take on work and improve their circumstances. I am very pleased with the concept.

Across the country, nearly 700,000 children have been lifted from poverty thanks in no small part to the introduction of tax credits, but our ambition to remove 1 million children from poverty by 2010 and eradicate the scourge of poverty by 2020 is a tall order, and every impediment must be removed. The keep the promise campaign rightly recognises that the Labour Government’s achievements have been enormous, but it points out, also rightly, that we must still work towards achieving what we promised.

If tax credits can be criticised, it must surely be on the grounds that they are just too complex. The average recipient relies entirely on official calculations, and it is nigh on impossible to know whether payments are right or wrong. For my part—and I am a pretty intelligent chap—I have not a clue how the formula works. I will not embarrass my right hon. Friend the Minister by asking whether he can make the calculations; his staff certainly cannot. The calculations are made by feeding the computer with myriad facts and figures, and one simply hopes that the outcome is correct.

Unfortunately, the introduction of tax credits was marred initially by computer faults and system failures. That has got much better, but there remains none the less a legacy of victims who, for the most part, simply did not know whether what they were paid was right or wrong, or whether they were overpaid or underpaid. Sometimes rough justice is better than no justice, and I hope that the Minister will still consider how the system can be simplified. A benefit should always have two qualities: knowledge of eligibility and knowledge whether what one receives is right or wrong. It is a simple test that tax credits, sadly, do not meet.

However, the concern that I wish to raise today relates to a specific failure in the tax credit system. It is a regulatory issue, but one that casts families into poverty rather than lifting them out. Through my constituency casework, I have been made aware of several cases—I know that many colleagues have had similar experiences—in which an award has been terminated after failure to finalise within the permitted deadline. When that happens, the whole amount paid during the tax year becomes recoverable, even if the family’s circumstances meant that they were fully entitled to all that they received.

We are not talking about a few hundred pounds. In many cases, sums of £5,000 or £7,000—for some families, that is almost half a year’s income—are being demanded. It is a sign of how widespread the problem is that over 100 of my parliamentary colleagues have signed an early-day motion that I sponsored on the subject. I am grateful for their support.

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Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 24/10/2008 :  06:59:34  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Here's what I have emailed my Labour MP, and I would invite you all to do the same, please. Pretty please!

Hi Sarah,

In your new role protecting the interests of Children, Families and Schools, I am sure you will be most interested in what your colleague has had to say about flaws in the tax credit system which are wounding people, and I sincerely hope that you will concur with him about the way a well-intentioned system is harming those it set out to help, and add your own vote to the EDM.

The speech, I feel, was terrific, although I thought the EDM somewhat clumsy. Nevertheless, the intention is good, and I am very pleased your colleague has displayed such integrity in challenging those parts of the system which are still not working as fairly and safely as they could. I hope more of your colleagues will share Michael Jabez Foster's commitment to acknowledging some of the flaws within a system which no-one can deny is helpful when it works properly and fairly, as only then will the Labour party be seen to be acting justly towards some of its more vulnerable citizens and see some degree of confidence restored. The alternative would seem to be a Conservative government which has previously promised a write-off of those earlier tax credit overpayments during the most erratic years of the 'system', which are still -unbelievably - surfacing now. I am sure you do not want this!

Below I have copied his speech, as I do not know if you were present at the time to hear it.

I would be grateful for your comments.



Hi Sarah,

I just looked, to be sure, and you are not there. Could you be, please?


Early Day Motion
EDM 2148


Foster, Michael Jabez
That this House believes that some families are experiencing excessive hardship through being required to repay tax credits after failing to finalise their award; and considers that the Government should review the statutory recovery of such overpayments and institute an appeals process so that where entitlement for the tax year can be shown, even at a later date, only recovery of a justifiable amount of overpayment should be made.

Signatures( 109)
Standard Order Party Groups Alphabetical Order Party Totals
Open signatures All signatures

Foster, Michael Jabez
Turner, Desmond
Buck, Karen
Wyatt, Derek
Jones, Lynne
Touhig, Don
Morgan, Julie
Prentice, Gordon
Rooney, Terry
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Adrian
Shepherd, Richard
Southworth, Helen
Havard, Dai
Illsley, Eric
Jones, Martyn
Laxton, Bob
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
McCafferty, Chris
McDonnell, John
Morley, Elliot
Clapham, Michael
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Curtis-Thomas, Claire
Dismore, Andrew
Drew, David
Fisher, Mark
Galloway, George
Godsiff, Roger
Begg, Anne
Stoate, Howard
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, David
Taylor, Ian
Walley, Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Weir, Mike
Williams, Hywel
Wood, Mike
Wright, Anthony D
Hemming, John
Anderson, David
Burt, Lorely
Clark, Katy
Davies, Philip
Swinson, Jo
Devine, Jim
Sheridan, Jim
Skinner, Dennis
Holmes, Paul
Hoyle, Lindsay
Key, Robert
Clelland, David
Cryer, Ann
Durkan, Mark
Stringer, Graham
Truswell, Paul
Williams, Roger
Riordan, Linda
Hunter, Mark
Simpson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Llwyd, Elfyn
O'Hara, Edward
Burgon, Colin
Caton, Martin
Hancock, Mike
Anderson, Janet
Willis, Phil
Mulholland, Greg
Williams, Mark
Davies, Dai
Harvey, Nick
Heyes, David
Meale, Alan
Breed, Colin
Carmichael, Alistair
Cousins, Jim
Jackson, Glenda
McCrea, Dr William
Bruce, Malcolm
Farrelly, Paul
Flynn, Paul
Williams, Betty
McGrady, Eddie
Dean, Janet
Bottomley, Peter
Vis, Rudi
McCartney, Ian
Etherington, Bill
Atkins, Charlotte
Leech, John
Rowen, Paul
Palmer, Nick
Purchase, Ken
Salter, Martin
Simpson, Alan
Starkey, Phyllis
Keeble, Sally
Keen, Alan
Mallaber, Judy
Mitchell, Austin
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Frank
Ellman, Louise
Vaz, Keith
Hermon, Lady
Hamilton, David

Will let you know the response, whether kind, scornful, in denial or very helpful - keeping an open mind....

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 24/10/2008 :  07:00:30  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
I notice they aren't all Labour MPs, either - Mike Hancock and some other good Lib dems are in there - so it wouldn't hurt to lobby the Opposition MPs too...

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 30/10/2008 :  08:34:27  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
The reply I've had from my MP, albeit brief, was written the same day as I emailed her, so that in itself deserves some thanks - to Sarah McCarthy-Fry.

Sarah says in her letter that due to her new 'position as Parliamentary Under Secretary of state at the Department for Children, Schools and Families I am uable to sign any EDM irrespective of its content'.

She says of Michael Jabez Foster's recent speech, 'I sincerely sympathise' and that she has 'taken up the points you raise with the Treasury', after which she will update me.

I'm happy with that response, although if anyone here knows just who is allowed to sign EDMs and who isn't, it would be good to know. Sounds like not all MPs are - unless it's just the government's own ministers who are under this prohibition, with all others free to do so?

Sarah has always been a little cagey about her position with tax credits, as she began by giving evidence to the Public Accounts Committee which was congratulatory regarding the concept but critical as to parts of the delivery - which is exactly where most government MPs with any integrity ought to be at the moment.

I'm still not sure that she supports our group, seeing those with tax credit problems being in a tiny minority, but she did attend our 'Voices of the Victims' meeting last June.

In the past Sarah has said she does not believe there should be an anmesty.

I think the next stage would be to ask her to ask the Treasury whether they have done any research into the cost effectiveness of recovery versus write-off? I would bet £20 to TCC funds that they haven't!!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2008 :  06:34:05  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
If you have a Conservative or Lib Dem MP, could I ask you all to write to them asking what their Party intends to put in its upcoming (pre-election) Manifesto regarding overpaid, non-fraudulent claimants, please? Are they going to grant an Amnesty? If we all ask, we might get...

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2008 :  06:37:10  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Something special for the Labour ones. In the light of Brown bailing out banks who had dealt recklessly with customers' savings out of unbridled greed - obviously motivated to help savers avoid loss - what are Labour planning to do for those standing to lose not savings, but money they do not have, only because of trust in the Treasury to get their tax credit awards right. Don't we deserve help too? And isn't this a drop in the ocean set against recovery costs and what was done for the banks? Please ask!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2008 :  06:38:33  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Meanwhile, I'm asking Cameron and Clegg about their Manifestos and will publish what I hear here! Do the same if you wish!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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Alan the Geordie

3032 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2008 :  13:45:26  Show Profile Send Alan the Geordie a Private Message
Originally posted by Ali M-W

Meanwhile, I'm asking Cameron and Clegg about their Manifestos and will publish what I hear here! Do the same if you wish!

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.

hear here!

"The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible
reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."

Adolf Hitler
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Ali M-W

3558 Posts

Posted - 08/11/2008 :  09:17:38  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
You must be logged in to see this link. Thanks!

4th November 2008

Dear David Cameron,

It seems likely that, following the next election, you will be the Party Leader invited by HM the Queen in 2010 to form the next government and that you may well now be the new Prime Minister-in-waiting. I am therefore writing to you, on behalf of the national voluntary user group Tax Credit Casualties, to ask you what the Conservatives are willing to do in order to help those millions of honest and compliant tax credit claimants who have unwittingly received tax credit overpayments and are now locked in torturous dispute with the unaccountable, bureaucratic and ruthless Revenue and Customs trying desperately to prove they were never at fault and deserve a full write-off? (Please see You must be logged in to see this link. and be horrified at the outrages revealed!)

Since 2005 Tax Credit Casualties across Britain have been adding their voices to those of organisations such as One Parent Families and the Child Poverty Action Group, and to the Parliamentary Ombudsman and numerous cross-party MPs who have all been calling at various times for a Tax Credit Amnesty. Many overpaid tax credit claimants are lower income families who have turned away in disgust from the Labour Party which they previously supported, due to the complacency and denial exhibited by senior Labour ministers whenever the tax credit overpayment travesty is mentioned. We are now looking for a party truly committed to social justice, which is prepared to pay more than just lip service to the principles of fairness, justice and equality. I hope you will be able to confirm to me your commitment to a tax credit overpayment amnesty in all cases where the claimant has not committed fraud nor acted dishonestly.

It may be helpful for you to consider what other Conservatives have said on this subject:

Back in 2003 David Willetts warned: Serious mistakes will be made because tax credits are not subject to the normal process of Whitehall negotiation. You must be logged in to see this link.

Work and Pensions spokesman David Willetts will argue that the party can hope to regain power only by offering a new brand of 'compassionate Conservatism'…In a speech to the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, he will commit a Tory Government to writing off child tax credit overpayments made by mistake to hundreds of thousands of households. The Evening Standard 07.01.05

Shadow spokesman for the Treasury, Phillip Hammond, told Channel 4 News: "The Government has to act now very quickly to resolve this situation and they must take on the parliamentary ombudsman's recommendation that they should look at forgiving the overpayments in cases where it is appropriate." Channel 4 News, 22 Jun 2005

George Osborne has said, ‘there is no greater mess than the tax credits system and its administration" Epolitix, 12th July 2007

From the Tax Credits Opposition Day, 7th June 2006, there was also overwhelming Conservative support for clarity of purpose in addressing the numerous problems within the system, as the following shows:

I beg to move,

That this House notes the overpayment, fraud and incompetence in the administration of the tax credit system; is concerned about the impact of this incompetence on the most vulnerable members of society; and calls upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the author of the tax credit policy, to explain to this House what measures are being undertaken to address these problems.

The House having divided: Ayes 218, Noes 287
[Includes, within Ayes, 154 Conservatives; within Noes, 284 Labour.]

In an official Parliamentary question, the Treasury admitted that it has issued 1.53 million notices ordering people to pay back tax credits – with 684,000 notices issued in one month alone. Shadow financial secretary, Mark Hoban, says the clawbacks come at a time when many families are already financially squeezed. “It is shocking that 1.5 million people are being forced to pay back money given to them by the government because of Labour’s incompetent administration of the tax credits system”, he adds. "At a time when family budgets are being squeezed, this could cause real hardship to some of the poorest families.” You must be logged in to see this link.

David Gauke has said: There are three elements to the Government’s performance in this matter [HMRC data security failures]: incompetence, complacency and evasiveness… There is a long list of data security failures by HMRC, but its failures are broader than that…. the disastrous administration of the tax credits system, with billions of pounds being overpaid, billions underpaid and billions lost through fraud and error. You must be logged in to see this link.

Here is what others have said:
Ann Abraham, the parliamentary ombudsman, said the tax credits system operated in a way that could have "unintended harsh and unfair consequences" for vulnerable people. She called on officials to consider writing off all tax credit overpayments resulting from Inland Revenue errors since the system began two years ago - a move that would relieve many thousands of families from the hardship caused by demands for wrongly paid cash to be given back. The Guardian, June 22 2005

One-third of claimants were overpaid and pushed into poverty when asked to repay, Citizens Advice reported. And the Parliamentary Ombudsman accused Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo of not giving MPs a clear picture. Both reports call for overpayments to be written off. BBC News, 22 June 2005

First Steps to Reform Tax Credits, written by CPAG’s Beth Lakhani [Child Poverty Action Group], has been sent to Ministers and follows a series of critical reports from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee, the Parliamentary Ombudsman and Citizens Advice on the way the tax credits system has operated. CPAG’s recommendations include: An amnesty on all overpayments up to April 2005 where fraud has not been proven. You must be logged in to see this link.

I would be most interested in your thoughts on this, and would be – along with many of my TCC colleagues – more than happy to talk to you further about the injustices of recovering accidentally overpaid tax credits from needy families who spent this money in supporting their families with nothing other than completely good faith that their awards were correct.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Myers-Ward,

A National Co-ordinator of Tax Credit Casualties.

Morpheus: They are the gatekeepers, they are guarding all the doors and holding all the keys.
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