Low take up means families miss out

One third of families entitled to working families’ tax credit are
failing to claim, according to government figures.

About 600,000 low income families, one in five of them single
parent families, are passing over an average of £42 per week
equating to £1.4bn annually. Of this, lone parents are missing
out on a total of up to £490m.

The figures, for 2000-1, are the government’s first estimates of
take-up since the flagship tax credit was launched in October 1999.
The much-touted WFTC, which replaced family credit, is a key plank
in the government’s strategy to tackle low income levels and child

But there is evidence of growth in take-up with 1.3 million
families receiving WFTC by May 2002 – an increase of 17 per cent
from the average for 2000-1. This figure is 500,000 higher than
that receiving the old family credit at its peak in June

Martin Barnes, director of the Child Poverty Action Group, said:
“The working families tax credit is more generous than family
credit which it replaced so it is disappointing that take-up is not
higher. Families who do not claim are losing an average of
£2,000 a year and many on lower incomes are also losing
entitlement to some health benefits.

“These figures confirm that many thousands of people in low pay
remain unaware of the help available or feel anxious or uncertain
about claiming,” Barnes added. “There is evidence that take-up is
particularly low in London and among ethnic minority groups.”

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