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Working Lunch Thursday, 17 April, 2003, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Revenue struggling to cope
Andrea Davidson
Andrea Davidson is a victim of the tax credit fiasco

Day 12 of the new Child and Working Tax Credits, but many of you still don't seem to have reached day one.

We're getting indications that the atmosphere in the Inland Revenue offices trying to handle this is reaching boiling point.

Simon's been with a family that's having to make ends meet without their tax credit.

Andrea Davidson, with two young sons, was expecting 150 a week of Child Tax Credit to replace the Working Families Tax Credit which finished at the beginning of this month.

Problem

But, though she is due the money, she has the same problem as many Working Lunch viewers; it simply hasn't arrived.

"We can't go shopping," she says.

Andrea Davidson
Andrea Davidson

"The kids want to go out because it's the Easter holiday and we can't basically.

"We've tried to borrow money off the family but it's not nice; no one wants to do that, and of course you still have to pay it back.

Promise

Andrea's case is particularly important because the government promised that people who applied before January the 31st this year would get their tax credits on time.

She applied last year, and opted to receive the money weekly. She should be receiving the money already, and has been sent a notice telling her that the payments would start on April 7th.

Ten days on from that, she still isn't getting any money.

The promise from the Inland Revenue seemed clear enough to Andrea and now she's fuming.

"When you phone up and enquire about the tax credits sometimes you're lucky and get someone who gives you information," she says.

"But I just find that they don't seem to know what they're doing.

It's just a nightmare really.

Andrea Davidson

"It's just a nightmare really."

Huge task

It was always going to be a huge task for Inland Revenue staff to process up to 6 million applications for Gordon Brown's new tax credits.

Their union leader says that they're doing a good job in challenging circumstances.

"It's a brand new system affecting millions of people," says Graham Steel, of the Public and Commercial Services Union.

Graham Steel
Graham Steel

"They've tried to make estimates as to how they want things to go.

"But in reality it's not gone to the timetable as many people expected and it's a matter of making the best of what is a very difficult situation."

Richard Mannion, a former president of one of the leading tax-accountancy bodies, describes the situation thus:

Shambles

"Certain words come to mind," he says.

"Ill conceived and a bit of a shambles are just a few.

"Basically there's far too many people included in this system.

Richard Mannion
Richard Mannion

"Nine out of ten families in the UK are included in the benefits system, even people earning 58,000 can claim.

"They simply don't need to.

"The Revenue is already struggling to cope with an over-complicated tax system, and now it's having to deal with an over-complicated tax credit system as well."

Andrea learned from Working Lunch this week that she could apply for an emergency payment and she's hoping for something before the weekend.

There is food in the house because her husband is working, but without the tax credit, coping will become more difficult by the day.

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15 Apr 03 | Business
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