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Ali M-W
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3558 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2010 :  09:05:36  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Finally we have a chance to use our 2010 General Election votes to steer the tax credit system towards being fairer and addressing some of the horrifying injustices of blaming the innocent for Treasury incompetence.

Most of us will want to use our votes, and place them where more good, or less harm, will be done. Can we trust Labour with Brown, the man who not only inflicted a dangerous, error-prone "system" upon us, but who has continued to blank and rubbish all critics, not only of other aspects of his dictatorial rule, but of his Titanic Flagship Tax Credit System? Can we rely on the less morally bankrupt members of his party coming to their senses and feeling the skin-crawling disgust of having shared their political bed with someone so obviously without scruples, integrity and conscience? Will another leader take over and redeem the Party? Will the Tories exercise "Compassionate Conservatism" and in some paradoxical way shift as far to the left as New Labour lurched to the right with "Hug a Billionnaire" Blair? Will the Lib Dems break through with a sudden surge of popularity and end the two party stranglehold on politics? And if Clegg becomes a Kingmaker, will he crown a true King or save a Knave? For many of us, the burning question will be who is most likely to treat tax credit casualties most fairly?

Now, perhaps, is the time to find out who is defending or contesting our local seat. Along with the sitting MP there will be Parliamentary Candidates from other parties. Unless that seat is in grave danger of returning a BNP bigot - in which case we can't let that happen by dispersing the mainstream votes - you may want to look up the polling scores for the last election in 2005 and see who came first and second, and how close the voting was.

Please don't be afraid to phone, write or drop each of the players an email asking them for their policy on tax credit overpayment recovery, whether they feel the system is just, what they plan to do about it, whether they support the view that it should be "innocent until proven guilty" in dispute cases, and if there should be an Amnesty for all non-fraudulent overpayments.

To help anyone living in Portsmouth North:

The current MP is Sarah McCarthy-Fry, Labour, and she does not support any form of Amnesty or write-off, but thinks that the current dispute system is fair. Her Party promises .... nothing at present. More of the same.

Her closest rival in what is deemed a marginal, winnable seat, is Penny Mordaunt, a Conservative. As a Parliamentary Candidate she can only at the moment advocate with the Party to improve the tax credit system, but cannot establish a write-off policy. On her website she writes: "We are way above the national average for the number of people who have been hit by tax credit overpayments. In Portsmouth nearly half of all payments processed have been incorrect. About 7,000 people in the city are currently victims of the messed up system, owing a combined total of £5 million." She supported the Tax Credit Casualties (and having no organisatiuonal affiliations to any party, we asked all the big three to support us, to mixed results) to compile our "Voices of the Victims" first hand accounts of tax credit injustices and tax them to Parliament, and she has supported our campaigning with commitment and enthusiasm. Her Party promises to simplify the tax system and reduce future errors, but not as yet any form of Amnesty or a change to an "innocent until proven guilty" approach.

Darren Sanders is the Lib Dem candidate, with strong local links. The Lib Dems came in far behind both Labour and the Tories last time out. Like Penny, he has supported the TCC well locally, attending various meetings and liaising with the established Lib Dem MP in neighbouring Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, to raise the profile of tax credit justice. Along with John Hemming, he delivered our "Voices of the Victims" book and petition to 10 Downing Street when they refused permission for ther TCC to go. His Party goes much further than the Tories, and supports a change to "innocent until proven guilty" and a write-off of all official error cases, as well as fixed awards which last for six months, and cannot be recovered except if fraudulent.

Have others found anything useful out about their local Politicians?








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
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3558 Posts

Posted - 10/04/2010 :  11:15:24  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
No movement on the Labour Manifesto regarding tax credit overpayment recovery, I am sorry to say.

On 8th April, I emailed my MP, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the following:

Sarah,

It is said that Labour will finalise its Manifesto today. On behalf of all victims of tax credit overpayment recovery, please will you urge Gordon Brown to declare an Amnesty for all non-fraudulent overpayments? Not only is this just, but votes will be saved or won on this issue alone. For my part, I will never again vote Labour until these injustices are admitted and rectified. Sadly, I have significantly more faith in Penny and Darren to put these wrongs right than I do in you, so this will be the first general election in which I will not vote for you.

Regards,
Alison. (Tax Credit Casualties, You must be logged in to see this link. )

Here is her response which, whilst it was nice and quick (it has just arrived by post to me now), is somewhat empty in my view:

Dear Alison

Thank you for your email. Iím sorry to learn that you donít currently feel you can vote Labour at the Election. I hope you feel that Iíve been as assiduous as possible in trying to help you over the years. I know this issue has affected you personally and I have done my level best to fight your corner. However, if you donít vote for me then there is a greater chance of there being a Conservative Government and I strongly believe that this would be far worse for you and your family as well as many of the other families in Portsmouth North.

Yours sincerely
Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North (dated 8th April 2010)


I personally feel it a shame that, as her career has progressed from a backbencher to working on the Treasury team, the system is hardly any fairer for other tax credit casualties than in ever was.

What an opportunity missed!

I hope others will share what their own MPs and Candidates are saying to them between now and May 6th, as I am interested to see this.





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 - 19/06/2010 :  14:34:54  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
Here you can find a letter to download and send, with any adaptations/additions you wish, to your own MP>

You must be logged in to see this link.

I can see from the various new member threads that these are gradually being sent off, so thanks for that! I will be keeping note of any helpful responses we have.

Graham, our Webmaster, has written a powerful letter to David cameron, for which he is awaiting a response.

This means that so far we have written letters, on behalf of our National group, to most of the new Cabinet (basically, if you represent an organisation or pressure group addressing a national issue which effects everyone, you can write to an MP or minister who is not your own constituency MP, but otherwise they'll redirect you to your own). Here's who we have written to so far:

David Cameron, who has spoken out for a safer, fairer system which does not produce system-created overpayments; Nick Clegg, whose election promise was an end to the recovery of overpayments caused by official error; David Gauke, who worked closely with key members of TCC, including an ex-HMRC whistleblower, to expose insider fraud and the injustice of the Revenue recovering money from victims rather than perpetrators; Danny Alexander, who called for all overpayments to be checked for bureaucratic errors before recovery was sought; pro-Amnesty Conservative backbencher and long time Tax Credit Casualties supporter Penny Mordaunt, whose staunch support for Portsmouth victims won her a resounding election victory far in excess of the national swing; Mike Hancock, long time pro-Amnesty Liberal Democrat supporter; Theresa May, who highlighted the millions wasted by Labourís increasingly desperate pursuit of innocent victims, who had spent their awards in good faith, through court action; Mark Hoban, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has supported us in the past; and Frank Field, newly-appointed Poverty Tsar, who famously compared the use of tax credits to alleviate poverty as the equivalent of ďattempting keyhole surgery with a hacksawĒ.

I can see that other members have confirmed contacting Sheryll Murray, Norman Lamb and Dave Anderson (who has confirmed his support for an Amnesty and has himself written to David Cameron). THANKS! We need more letters, and I am steadily writing to all those who, when in Opposition, gave us their support, to make sure they do not waver.

Next up... John Hemming, the Lib Dem who highlighted the scandal that, if renewal packs were not sent out by HMRC or went missing in the post, al, previous payments were deemed overpayments and terrifying bills sent.

I will keep you posted on any responses we get.

For the price of a stamp you can help us finally get the tax credit mess sorted! (Or you can even email and save on postage.)

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 - 02/07/2010 :  08:17:14  Show Profile Send Ali M-W a Private Message
I've posted an update here: You must be logged in to see this link.

We are steadily getting MPs on board... much more besides.

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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