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39 Posts

Posted - 22/11/2007 :  14:07:53  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
Treasury sub committee - Treasury expenditure and administration 14/11/07.

I went along to this meeting to observe, from the public seats, what went on at Treasury sub committee meetings and to see if we could gain any useful information on Tax Credits.

I had submitted an evidence paper on behalf of Tax Credit Casualties asking questions about Tax Credit overpayments processing etc. I will attempt to download the contents of the submission later. At this particular meeting, Tax Credits weren’t mentioned, neither was my submission, but it was still quite an interesting meeting to go to. It’s a cross party committee and they were grilling a chief civil servant from the Treasury. They were questioning him on the Treasury’s expenditure and talked a lot about various internal government efficiency and cost savings measures and how the Treasury were meeting these – the Gershon Report, Comprehensive Spending Review etc. They also discussed issues such as Northern Rock, the impact of immigration on the economy, the Olympics, child poverty, aid and development (quoting from a new Oxfam report), public sector jobs etc.

The main things I got from this were 1. The obsession with “efficiency” and cost saving. This is great for us Casualties as HMRC have the worst record for overspend and wasting money of any Govt department. 2. The sensitivity to issues in the public eye – e.g. Northern Rock, Olympics etc – if it’s in the media it will probably get discussed so it’s worth getting big media hits. 3. They do quote campaigning organisations, like the Oxfam report.

I was a little annoyed that I’d taken the afternoon off and that my submission wasn’t addressed, so when I got back I rattled off a quick, but friendly, e-mail to the Treasury to say it would have been good if they could have let me know beforehand that it wasn’t on the agenda and to ask if there were more relevant meetings/departments we should go to. I said that we were really keen to get involved in the political process (unlike the silent majority) They’ve now replied to say that the next sub committee meeting, which is specifically about HMRC, is more relevant and that they’ve sent my submission to them for this one. Which is far more hopeful.

The Treasury sub committee looking at HMRC administration and expenditure 2006-2007 is scheduled for 5th December. The original press release said that Paul Gray would be representing HMRC, but he has resigned over the Child Benefit records leak so things might change.

I will keep you posted. And if anyone would care to join me in Westminster watching civil servants squirm please pm me or reply below. Cheers!

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Posted - 22/11/2007 :  14:14:30  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
Here's my submission to the Treasury sub committee - there is a specified format which is why it looks a bit weird, and I kept it fairly short which is why it doesn't cover all of the questions we have. Sorry fpr putting such a long posting on the forum.

Memorandum 09/11/07

Re: Evidence Session on HM Treasury: administration and expenditure in 2006-07
From: Lisa Weatherley, on behalf of Tax Credit Casualties.

Executive Summary

1. As a representative of Tax Credits overpayments victims I am requesting that the Select Committee seek information from HMRC regarding Tax Credits overpayments for 2006-2007, the number of overpayment disputes received or processed during 2006-2007, the end-to-end costs of processing overpayment disputes in 2006-2007, the percentage of overpayment cases written off on the grounds of financial hardship in 2006-2007, the number and percentage of overpayment cases successfully pursued via the Courts in 2006-2007, also the number of overpayments written off as HMRC error, and at what stage they were written off.

2. With regards to HMRC administration, I am seeking an update on the implementation of the recommendations in the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report “Putting Things Right” June 2005 HC 124

3. This information is relevant both to the tax payer and to MPs and others representing, and campaigning on behalf of, victims of Tax Credits mistakes and overpayments.


Brief Introduction

4. My name is Lisa Weatherley and I am volunteering on behalf of the organisation “Tax Credit Casualties”, who represent and assist members of the public affected by Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit overpayments. There is information about our organisation at You must be logged in to see this link.

5. In addition, my partner is subject to a £5,000 Tax Credits overpayment demand from HMRC which we are currently in the process of disputing.

6. In brief, Tax Credit Casualties are calling for all non-fraudulent Tax Credits overpayments from April 2003 onwards to be written off, and for a reform of the Tax Credits scheme to better reflect the needs and circumstances of claimants.

7. Tax Credit Casualties are very interested in HMRC expenditure and administration in relation to Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits, and the recovery of overpayments of these, and I am hoping that we can contribute to, and learn from, the Select Committee meeting above.




Factual Information

8. Tax Credit Casualties request information from HMRC on the number and monetary value of Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits overpayments for 2006-2007.

9. We request information on HMRC’s expenditure for 2006-2007 in relation to Tax Credits overpayments (for example the identification, notification, processing and collection of overpayments, helpline costs, legal costs, and writing off overpayments due to HMRC error and fraud).

10. We request information on HMRC and the Treasury’s expenditure for 2006-2007 in relation to Tax Credit overpayment disputes – from the point at which the claimant first disputes the overpayment to the point where all dispute processes are exhausted i.e. including the Adjudicator, Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Courts. This would include the costs of the overpayments and complaints staff at Tax Credit Offices etc.

11. We request information on the number, and percentage this represents, of Tax Credits overpayment cases written off by HMRC due to the claimants financial hardship.

12. We request information from HMRC regarding the number of Tax Credits overpayments cases taken to the courts in 2006-2007, the number or percentage of these cases that were found in HMRC’s favour, and the number or percentage of these cases that were found in the claimant’s favour.

13. We are very concerned by the large number of Tax Credit overpayment victims being pursued by HMRC through the courts. We have evidence, and are also very concerned that Tax Credit claimants are being taken to court before they have been able to exhaust the appeals process. Furthermore, Tax Credit Casualties have evidence and are deeply concerned that, once in court, HMRC’s Certificate of Debt overrides the claimants’ ability to defend themselves and that Judges are claiming that they cannot over-rule such a Certificate.

14. It is deeply worrying that Tax Credits overpayments are resulting in thousands of British people having County Court Judgements (CCJs) against them, and the implications this has for their ability to access financial services such as mortgages.

15. Lastly, we request an update on HMRC’s implementation of the recommendations in the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report “Putting Things Right” June 2005 HC 124






Recommendations

16. Tax Credit Casualties believe that tax payers’ money, and HMRC’s staff time and resources would be much better spent writing off overpayments and overhauling the Tax Credits system to minimise or eliminate overpayments, rather than spending our taxes uneconomically chasing overpayments and disputed overpayments, and maintaining an inherently unfair and unworkable system. We have also personally all been victims of HMRC’s mistakes, delays, failures, lack of accountability, partiality and heavyhandedness. We therefore make the following recommendations:

17. Tax Credit Casualties recommend that HMRC, as a matter of urgency, implements recommendation 10 from the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report “Putting Things Right” June 2005 and writes off in full all non-fraudulent excess and overpayments of Tax Credits 2003-2005.

18. Tax Credit Casualties recommend that HMRC implements, as soon as possible, all recommendations from the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s reports on Tax Credits “Putting Things Right” June 2005 and “Getting It Wrong” October 2007.

19. Tax Credit Casualties recommend that HRMC immediately scrap the “reasonableness” component of CoP26, as HMRC have proven themselves to be incapable of administrating this in a fair, reasonable and impartial manner, and instead use an independent body to assess the source, and writing off, of Tax Credit overpayments.

20. Tax Credit Casualties recommend that HMRC invite Tax Credit Casualties representatives to attend the Tax Credits Consultations Group to help reform Tax Credits, in a transparent and accountable way, into a system that best reflects the needs and circumstances of claimants.

21. Tax Credit Casualties also seeks the support of the Sub-Committee in seeking an urgent meeting between Tax Credit Casualties and Jane Kennedy, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to discuss, address and progress issues of Tax Credits administration and overpayment.
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auntieh
Rank; Really should become a politician



United Kingdom
625 Posts

Posted - 22/11/2007 :  22:47:40  Show Profile Send auntieh a Private Message
Well done Lisa - you have been busy. I would be happy to take the afternoon off on 5th December and meet you in London. Will send you a PM.
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Ali M-W
Mod



3558 Posts

Posted - 23/11/2007 :  07:37:19  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Thanks, Lisa, for putting that together for us, and submitting it to first one dull Treasury meeting and then, when they conveniently ignored it, insisting it went to the next. Lisa has put in so much work on this and given so much of her own time making sure we get the proper consideration we need. She's been networking for us too, and I just wanted to thank her for all she has done on behalf of all of us. Good luck on 5th December, Lisa!

Agent Smith: I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.

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27 Posts

Posted - 23/11/2007 :  13:35:15  Show Profile Send n/a a Private Message
That is such great work Lisa - thankyou!
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Ali M-W
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3558 Posts

Posted - 25/11/2007 :  05:39:55  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Tufc, totally agree with you there, and we're lucky at the TCC to have the members we do, striving to advance our cause. After the recent lost CDs debacle, I think we need something in there asking what steps HMRC is taking to ensure in future that it takes security of data seriously, and given its clearly demonstrated carelessness with information we entrust to it, is it not now time to write off all non-fraudulent tax credit overpayments and accept the fact that HMRC caused these through similarly lax procedures and loss/misuse of information such as claimants correct salaries, prompt notification of changes, and renewal forms?

Agent Smith: I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it.

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