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Ali M-W
Mod


3558 Posts

Posted - 08/06/2010 :  08:11:29  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
So many charities, unions and welfare groups have supported a write-off of non-fraudulent overpayments over the years that we need to get ALL our politicians, regardless of party, to follow suit.

I hope EVERY member and site visitor will either adapt and print off the following letter to send to their MP, or write something better of their own.

My apologies in advance, because invariably when I copy and paste these letters, the paragraphing and fonts all change and look hideous - but it's a starting point for all of you, and I hope you will use it, and ask others who are affected (or know someone who is) to do likewise.

Okay, here it is:




[Name]
Address 1
Address 2
Town
Post code


[Name of your MP] MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

[Insert date]

Dear [Name of your MP] MP,

I am writing on behalf of the national user group Tax Credit Casualties (You must be logged in to see this link. ) and as a member of your constituency to ask for your help in ensuring that this Government ends the unfair, punitive recovery of tax credit overpayments caused by system errors.

Tax credits were meant to reduce poverty and make work pay but up to £5.8 billion of tax credits goes uncollected each year, according to the previous Labour government’s figures.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has found that only 1 in 5 entitled people actually claim working tax credit, many fearful of bureaucratic errors and unsolicited future debt. Advertised as “Money with your name on it” to offset low wages and provide vital support for lower income families, countless honest workers trusted HM Revenue and Customs to correctly calculate their entitlement and spent the money in good faith, providing for their dependents. The draconian recovery tactics now used by HMRC to snatch back historic overpayments strike terror into the heart of innocent people and would be the envy of any dictatorship; totally inappropriate to a nation whose pride is its sense of fair play. HMRC is allowed to endlessly admit sloppy mistakes on overpaid claims, yet continually absolve itself of all responsibility as its own judge and jury. Millions of pounds are being spent in the pursuit of money which has already gone, whilst the low take-up of tax credits is marvelled at, analysed and dissected, and further money thrown at encouraging reluctant lower income families to claim. Meanwhile the obvious solution is ignored.

We need this coalition government to grant an immediate Amnesty of all non-fraudulent overpayment claims – supported not simply by our new government but all parties, for the good of our nation. If shame and compassion haven’t to date prompted an urgent write-off, the staggering long-term costs of deadlock dispute should. One look at the balance sheet for recovery versus write-off should soon convince any critic that under the current, draconian recovery policy, the Treasury’s resources are diverted and overstretched on an endless bureaucratic trail that invariably ends up costing more than is recovered from the hapless overpayment victim. The system cannot move forward because it is chaotically busy looking back, haemorrhaging scarce public money as it goes.

Despite many overpayment victims being kept unaware of their rights, they soon sense injustice and growing numbers are empowering themselves to fight back. Hence Tax Credit Casualties has grown from a handful of founding members to a multiple award-nominated national voluntary user group whose membership runs into thousands, and whose free dispute pack has – with our blessing - been begged, stolen and borrowed by welfare rights, tax justice groups and unions as a template for their own self-help booklets. Over 100,000 unique visitors have accessed our website, and 1000s of people have acknowledged our support in winning their cases.

The beauty of consumer action is that every successful case simply adds to the overwhelming body of evidence TCC now has that the system, for all the rhetoric of its success, is failing too many honest, hardworking families. This accumulated knowledge has helped politicians, councillors, the media, tax groups, solicitors, unions, charities and welfare agencies – who now consult us when researching problems with the system – to better understand where the problems lie in the current system. Bad practice, data loss, insider fraud, the cruel annulment of previous awards when returned renewal packs go missing, the maternity leave trap, HMRC internal guidance to only discuss the issues claimants themselves raise, the rhetoric-practice gap in exercising Revenue discretion in cases of serious illness, bereavement, mental ill health and acute hardship, breaches of confidentiality and premature court action are just a few examples TCC has found.

Every victim successfully evidencing their innocence of blame, through data access requests which cannot lie (although you must believe that the instances in which key evidence fails to arrive in the data bundle received by the claimant victim on a first request far exceeds the level of coincidence) provides a further piece of the hellish jigsaw, showing a failing, incompetent and ruthless system. This can no longer be ignored by politicians of any party; it is quite simply wrong. Within all our main political parties there are supporters of a full write-off, and an Amnesty has been sought at various times by Citizens Advice, Advice Northern Ireland, the Child Poverty Action Group, One Parent Families, the Royal College of Nursing, the GMB and UNISON, the Parliamentary Ombudsman among many others.

[Here you can insert a short summary of how you or a family member has been affected by a non-fault tax credit overpayment, and the impact this has had, especially on someone’s health and wellbeing or chance of a better life.]

We want to see our new government putting just a portion of the unclaimed tax credit billions to good use, freeing the innocent indebted from the nightmare of tax credit overpayment bills. This will give honest victims back their lives and dignity, as well as restoring public confidence in all our political leaders, whether in government or opposition, to take the interests and wellbeing of their constituents seriously. You will know how much this has been in question recently.

I urge you to support a tax credit overpayment Amnesty as an important step towards tackling poverty, encouraging future take-up of tax credits by qualifying families, and securing a safer, fairer tax credit system. Please let me know by return of post that you will be adding your support to this vital action.

Yours sincerely,


[Your name]



Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.

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Ali M-W
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 12/06/2010 :  07:36:51  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
A better version of this letter (I think, during writing it, I changed persepective from tax credit victim/TCC member to TCC activist so our Webmaster Graham has sorted this out in the final edit!)can be found here:

You must be logged in to see this link.

Please, please add your own details and any personalisdation of it that you want to, and post or email it to your MP.... and let me/us know how your MP responds!

I've had a positive response (albeit expected) from Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North, and Alan (the Geordie) from his MP Dave Anderson, so please bag us a few more supporting MPs and we will see some results!

Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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kernowchick08
Rank; Hector Tax Inspector



United Kingdom
31 Posts

Posted - 14/06/2010 :  09:12:20  Show Profile Send kernowchick08 a Private Message
Morning Ali

Copy, with a few personal details added, of your 'MP Amnestity' letter just sent to my MP Sheryll Murray (newly elected here).
I'll let you know in due course of any reply
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Ali M-W
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 15/06/2010 :  08:03:04  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Thanks, Kernowchick! I've had a quick "google" of your MP and (perhaps because she's just won the seat) she's not made any previous mention of tax credits, as far as I can see, so I will wait for her "conversion" to the cause! Please keep us updated!

Hope a few others will post here, too - anonymously is fine. If we can reach enough MPs, the Amnesty on non-fraudulent overpayments will be ours, since it is obvious as soon as anyone looks properly at the system where the faults lie. Thanks!

Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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Alan the Geordie
Admin



3032 Posts

Posted - 17/06/2010 :  20:58:28  Show Profile Send Alan the Geordie a Private Message
<< I've had a positive response (albeit expected) from Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North, and Alan (the Geordie) from his MP Dave Anderson, so please bag us a few more supporting MPs and we will see some results! >>

Further to this, I have today received a letter from Dave Anderson in which he tells me that he has written to the Prime Minister - not sure which one - and will write to me again when he has received a response.

"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
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2010 :  08:15:38  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Okay, I've had acknowedgements from Nick Clegg, Deputy PM, Theresa May (Home Secretary) and George Osborne (Chancellor); Mike Hancock, Lib Dem MP, has written to the Chancellor supporting an early-years write-off when the system was even more of a dog's breakfast, and Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, has passed his letter over to Justine Greening, who has overall responsibility for tax credits (lucky her!). I'm still in the process of lobbying various MPs who have shown us, or our members, support - or who have been in the media recently with tax credit issues.

Much other stuff is going on "behind the scenes" which the gang is working on at present; some interesting cases illustrating many system flaws and irregularities, and "discoveries" which could prove significant. Can't say too much right now - but we all need to keep the pressure up on HMRC to do right by us, our politicians to act, and the media to support us. If members get any favourable or interesting responses from their MPs regarding tax credit issues generally, please do let us know by posting here or emailing us. Thanks!

Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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Alan the Geordie
Admin



3032 Posts

Posted - 02/07/2010 :  13:05:52  Show Profile Send Alan the Geordie a Private Message
<< Further to this, I have today received a letter from Dave Anderson in which he tells me that he has written to the Prime Minister - not sure which one - and will write to me again when he has received a response. >>

I'm disappointed to say that so far I have heard nothing further from Dave Anderson MP and have since sent him a further 2 e-mails regarding other Tax Credit issues.

I receive e-mail notifications telling me whenever Dave speaks in the house of Conmen - which he does quite a lot - but so far has never mentioned anything about Tax Credits.

"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
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 21/07/2010 :  23:22:27  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Lots going on behind the scenes - People Power will win this - but we do need everyone pulling together and LOBBYING THEIR MPS!!!!

National Audit Office report out today - showing how HMRC is struggling to recover tax credit overpayments which are harder for them to claw back than underpaid tax:

You must be logged in to see this link.

Could it be because overpayment victims do not have the money, know they did no wrong, and are prepared to stick up for themselves?



Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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Ali M-W
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 21/07/2010 :  23:24:58  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
UNDERPAYMENTS ARE GREATER THAN OVERPAYMENTS!!!!

Unbelievable...


You must be logged in to see this link.


Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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Ali M-W
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 27/07/2010 :  21:27:09  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
If HMRC is not exercising its powers of discretion to write off overpayments, it could fall foul of public law, according to this:

You must be logged in to see this link.

Morpheus: I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.
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