Credit mix-ups ‘will aggravate poverty’

Confusion over tax credit repayments will put low-income
families at risk of further hardship, the Child Poverty Action
Group has warned.

The complexity of the tax credit system could make it difficult to
establish whether families have been overpaid due to the
government’s error or their own, CPAG’s head of policy, Paul
Dornan, said.

The government has announced that overpayments will be written off
if tax officials made the error.

The decision follows two critical reports from parliamentary
ombudsman Ann Abraham and the Citizens Advice Bureaux, which said
the £1.9bn in overpayments were the result of system failure
which had left many families destitute.

Backing the CAB’s claim to write off payments except in cases of
proven fraud, Dornan said: “It’s not necessarily easy to prove
official error. It is difficult to work out what is official error
and what is individual error because of the level of complexity of
the system.”

He said the government had failed to make clear the importance of
recipients reporting a change in their circumstances.

In a House of Commons statement last week, paymaster general Dawn
Primarolo admitted many of the errors had been due to faults in the
IT system.

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