Saturday, 14 April 2018

HMRC have got their debt collectors onto me.

HMRC still want £416 in overpaid tax credits. I have asked them repeatedly to explain to my why they overpaid me- I eventually found out from Citizen's Advice.

In order to be awarded Working Tax Credits, you need to be working 30 hours per week- unless you are in receipt of the Daily Living component of either DLA or PIP. Under DLA I was receiving both Daily Living and Mobility, so despite only working 22.5 hours, I was still eligible for WTC. I had applied for WTC a long time before receiving DLA- 2008, but I was denied due to working too few hours. Nobody explained the above to me until late 2010, though, even when Pure Innovations took over the Work Choice scheme and I started to get what I was entitled to.

My DLA was stopped in December 16, in preparation for the unconfirmed move over to PIP. I applied for PIP. During this fiasco, HMRC continued to pay me WTC. I assumed that there was no problem with this as the two were separate benefits.

Eventually, after PIP was awarded, my Working Tax Credits were stopped, and I assumed this was because they were about to move me over to Universal Credit. It was not.

At the same time, HMRC claimed I owed them £416 in overpaid tax credits. They did not explain this. I phoned them numerous times to give me a reason for this demand, and each operative I spoke to told me my tax credits were 'under review.'

Months later, similar letters came through- I still owed them the money and I still couldn't get back onto Tax Credits. No explanation.

Eventually I contacted Welfare Rights. It emerged that, because I was not moved over from DLA to PIP automatically, that break signified a change in circumstances and my WTC were due to be stopped. Some weeks after I was only awarded the Mobility component, WTC payments eventually stopped. This took some time for HMRC to realise THEIR mistake, though, so they sent me a letter demanding this money without explaining the above.

Rather than paying the money, I've spent my time trying to get to the bottom of this and asking my employer for more hours. (I'm waiting to hear back from HR.)

HMRC are still paying me a monthly block payment of £88, the weekly £22 Mobility PIP component. This, plus my part-time wage, isn't enough to get by on. £416, my apparent debt, is about half of my monthly wage.

This week I received a letter from Advantis Debt Collection Centre.

'This is your opportunity to put things right,' it says. If you don't contact us or pay what you owe now HM Revenue and Customs has instructed us to pass your debt to debt collection agents for recovery. Yours faithfully.'

Faithfully. Hmm.

My question to HMRC: What is the point in continually paying ME benefits when, at the same time, and due to YOUR error, I owe YOU money? Why not stop paying me until the debt is balanced, or deduct a certain amount each month until the overpayment is rectified over a 12-month period? Why blame me, a learning disabled man, for your financial error? And how interesting that it takes so much effort to get these benefits awarded- even when there's solid proof of a disability- but you're so quick to start demanding the money back and threatening me with BAILIFFS?!

Meanwhile, I have asked my employer for additional hours. If I work over 25, I can claim WTC as a normal applicant, regardless of disability. Now is apparently the time, with the ongoing restructure, that it might happen, if ever, but of course I have not heard back. I have also asked Social Services for support in relation to finances, but, again, probably due to being employed in a public sector desk job, and because I speak and write eloquently, the idea that I might genuinely need their support with this situation will most likely be incomprehensible to them. They may think my application is some kind of administrative error.

And with the money the Tories have saved from cutting disabled people's benefits, what is Mrs May doing? Mental health training in schools? Providing homeless shelters? Rebuilding the country's hacked-down police presence? Training more nurses? No: Syrian air strikes.

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