4th May 2005
Fighting a faceless, uncaring, state
It is hard enough to challenge government when it has gone wrong. It is even harder when there is incompetent IT in the way!
(Franz Kafka, (1883-1924), got here first!)
“ An overpayment may arise for a number of reasons and where possible are collected from continuing awards. Any customer who believes this may cause hardship should contact the tax credits office. If the overpayment is a result of our error and it was reasonable for the claimant to think that it was right, we will not recover it. ”
HM Revenue & Customs spokesman
“ We cannot comment on individual cases. The Child Support Agency works hard to ensure parents support their children financially and currently deals with over a million cases. We are doing our utmost to shelter customers from IT problems which we are urgently working with our supplier to resolve. ”
"Two years ago, the then Inland Revenue (IR), which now comes under HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), sent her a payment of £1,354.47. Ms Hutton got the impression this was money owed from previous Child Tax Credit underpayments, and believing that the IR system had got it right, proceeded to buy a cot and sofa. Two months ago, Ms Hutton was in for a shock when she received a bill stating she had been overpaid and was billed £1,354.47. She said: "As a single parent I am struggling, there is no way I can afford to pay this. You assume they know what they're doing when they send you that kind of money."
"Ms Hutton's issue with the CSA has also come about from what appears to be an error on their part. Upon gaining part-time employment in January 2004, she stopped claiming income support, and was entitled to the full amount of child maintenance payments made to the CSA by her former partner. However, it took the CSA several months to ensure she received the correct amount on a regular basis. Ms Hutton was then informed by the CSA that they owed her £402.09 which they said she would receive within six weeks. It is now almost a year later, and Ms Hutton has still not received the money owed to her, despite literally hundreds of phone calls and letters she claims she has made to them requesting it.
"They recently sent her a bill for £2.14, which she says "adds insult to injury", and then dropped her support payments by £8 without explanation."