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Moneybox Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 13:38 GMT
Concern at Tax Credit delays
Children and money
The new Child Tax Credit begins in April
Many people who applied for the Child Tax Credit months ago are still waiting to hear if they have qualified, how much it will be, and when they will be paid.

Applicants have contacted the BBC's Money Box programme, concerned they will not receive the payments on time.

And the new system is due to begin in just three weeks.

The new Child Tax Credit is a regular payment to families with children; and nine out of 10 families are expected to benefit.

But Money Box listener Graham King - who lives in York with his wife and two young children - applied for the Child Tax Credit via the Inland Revenue's website over two months ago.

When he eventually got through to the helpline, he was told the Revenue could not check the status of his application because the system was down.

The person Graham spoke to "apologised but did say they had started sending out the award letters, there was a big backlog to clear, but hopefully I would receive mine within 10 days," Graham told Money Box.

He has heard nothing.

Helpline problems

Despite many calls to the Tax Credit helpline, Graham has still not received any notification of his family's award; and is no closer to knowing exactly what they will get and when.

And he is not alone.

Nigel Hall posted his Tax Credit application form to the Revenue in October 2002.

The Revenue sent him a letter to say it had received his application. But then he heard no more.

Without knowing how much is coming, it is difficult to make any financial planning for the next tax year

Nigel Hall

In February 2003, having called the helpline several times, he eventually managed to get an update. At that point he assumed things were back on track.

But just like Graham, nothing arrived.

"These last few days I have tried on three or four occasions to get through to the Inland Revenue Tax Credit helpline.

"On each occasion I have got a recorded message... and then the line goes dead...

"Without knowing how much is coming, it is difficult to make any financial planning for the next tax year."

Vital "award" information

Inland Revenue, Bush House, London
The Revenue said that award notices are being sent out now

Although Nigel and Graham both know the Revenue has received their forms, they are still waiting for their award notices.

The award notice tells each family if they have qualified and how much they will get.

People who applied online are required to sign the award notice and send it back, before they can receive any money.

Money Box asked the Inland Revenue to explain why people are suffering delays and difficulties getting through to the helpline.

The Revenue admits its call answering performance has dipped because the helpline is so busy.

It apologised and said it had increased the number of staff answering calls.

The Revenue also told Money Box that if you have already claimed, and there are no outstanding queries on your claim form, you should start getting your payments from 6 April, 2003.

It added that award notices telling families exactly what they will get are being posted now.


Making a claim

If you have not yet claimed, do so now.

The Revenue will only backdate claims by three months, so the latest you can submit your form is 6 July 2003 or you will start to lose money.

Check the status of your claim

To check on the status of your claim you can:

  • Call the helpline: 0845 300 3900 (England, Scotland and Wales) or 0845 603 2000 (Northern Ireland)

  • Visit your local Inland Revenue Enquiry Centre. To find your nearest one go to the Inland Revenue website

    BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast at 1204 GMT on Saturday, 22 March, 2003.

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    08 Mar 03 | Moneybox
    14 Jan 03 | Business
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