Tax credit complaints rise

Over half of all complaints received by the HMRC adjudicator for complaints
concerned Inland Revenue tax credits with over 80% of grievances investigated
upheld in the complainant’s favour, according to Dame Barbara Mills’ latest

Dame Barbara, adjudicator for complaints about the Revenue, the Valuation
Office Agency, the Public Guardianship Office and the Insolvency Service, said
she was ‘disappointed’ that there had been a ‘marked increase’ in the number of
tax credit complaints in the year to March 2005.

Some 4,383 complaints were received concerning the Revenue with 405 for
Customs & Excise. Dame Barbara recommended that the organisations involved
pay a total of £250,633 with the Revenue (£213,482) and Customs and Excise
(£33,366) paying the vast majority.

Her report said that at the heart of many of these complaints was the
‘sensitive issue of overpayments arising from Inland Revenue error’. She said
that, although the tax credit system had been in place for two years, it was
‘still clearly not working well for many claimants’.

She said that she was ‘particularly disappointed’ that tax credit claimants
continued to experience difficulties in accessing the complaints system, and
added that ‘any system giving benefits and support to vulnerable people, such as
those on low incomes, needed to be administered in a way that was sensitive to
their needs’.

However, Dame Barbara said she had seen ‘tangible evidence’ of a growing
recognition within the newly merged department that the system needed to
improve. She added that the recent announcement to the House of Commons by the
paymaster general of measures to tackle the problems highlighted in her report
was further evidence of this.

She noted that the transition from Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise to
HMRC presented ‘major challenges’ for the emerging organisation.

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