Tax credits and early years e-bulletin August 2019 | CPAG

Tax credits and early years e-bulletin August 2019

Date: 
22 August 2019
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IN THIS ISSUE
TRAINING

Our 2019/2020 Training and Publications brochure is available. We are running the following courses, also available in-house, which are particularly relevant to early years workers:

Find out more and book a place here

FACTSHEETS

The following factsheets on financial help for families have been updated and are available to download from our website:

We have a limited printed supply of these factsheets. If you would like to receive printed copies please email jblyth@cpagscotland.org.uk.

TAX CREDIT RENEWALS

Everyone who was entitled to tax credits in 2018/19 should have received an annual review with the opportunity to renew their tax credit claim for 2019/20 by 31 July 2019. Renewal is still possible as long as the claimant has not made a claim for universal credit. A late response to the annual review can still result in a restored tax credits claim for 2019/20. This applies if the claimant makes the declaration as required within 30 days of being notified that their tax credits entitlement will end, or up to 31 January 2020 if they have good cause for the late declaration.

BEST START FOODS

From 12 August 2019, a new Best Start foods payment card will replace the Healthy Start voucher scheme in Scotland. The main features are:

  • Best Start foods payment card will be worth £4.25 a week, or £8.50 for a child under 1.
  • The payment card can be used for milk, fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables, pulses and eggs.
  • Eligibility can begin from the start of pregnancy and continue until the child’s 3rd birthday.
  • People entitled to Healthy Start vouchers for a child aged 2 or 3 within the last 12 weeks who claim Best Start foods before 31 March 2020 can continue to qualify until the child’s 4th birthday.

You qualify if you are pregnant, or responsible for a child under 3 and receiving:

  • UC and earn no more than £610 a month in either of the last two complete monthly assessment periods
  • CTC (not WTC) with annual income of £16,190 or less
  • CTC and WTC with annual income of £7,320 or less
  • housing benefit with weekly income of £311 or less
  • income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or pension credit.

You can also qualify if under 18 or aged 18/19 and a dependent in someone else's benefit claim.

It will be possible to claim from 12 August 2019 on 0800 182 2222 or https://www.mygov.scot/benefits/best-start/

Note that Healthy Start vouchers will be phased out for people currently receiving them in Scotland, and people will be invited to apply for the new Best Start foods payment card between August and December 2019.

See the regulations for more detail, and check our online resource on Scottish benefits to keep up to date.

SCOTTISH CHILD PAYMENT

The Scottish Government announced on 26 June 2019 that it would use its devolved powers to introduce a new benefit for children in lower income families. The Scottish child payment will be available from early 2021 to families responsible for a child under 6, and by the end of 2022 for families with a child under 16, if the applicant or partner is in receipt of:

  • universal credit
  • child tax credit
  • working tax credit
  • income support
  • pension credit
  • housing benefit
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance

It is expected that any amount of qualifying benefit payable will be sufficient to qualify, regardless of other income or earnings, and if benefit has been reduced due to sanctions or deductions.

The Scottish child payment will be £10 a week per child, payable on a monthly basis, at approximately £43.33 per calendar month. There will be no limit on payment according to the number of children in families, so the Scottish child payment will still be payable for a child affected by the two child limit in universal credit or child tax credit.

Check our online resource on Scottish benefits to keep up to date.

ADJUDICATOR’S REPORT

The Adjudicator’s Office acts as an independent referee in disputes between individuals and HMRC, including disputes about tax credits. It is usually necessary to have exhausted HMRC’s internal complaints procedure before the Adjudicator will investigate a case.

In 2018/19:

  • Approximately 43% of tax credits complaints were upheld in the claimant’s favour.
  • A total of £281,914 was paid out by HMRC in redress, including overpayments written off.
  • The average time to resolve a complaint was down to 3.6 months.

The report includes case studies which demonstrate familiar failings in HMRC’s advice on the transition from tax credits to universal credit. Findings included:

  • A lack of customer focus and ownership of customer issues in HMRC’s approach where the matter spanned tax credits and universal credit.
  • A defensive culture in complaint handling where there had been a departmental error.
  • Lack of common understanding of the use of the Admin Law Manual in relation to tax credits overpayments when HMRC has given incorrect advice.

Read the report in full.

Q&A: UC CLAIMED BY MISTAKE – CAN TAX CREDITS BE RESTORED?

Q. My client is a lone parent student who also works part-time. She thought she was applying for help with childcare costs only. She made the UC claim online and then sought advice the next day. She will be much worse off on UC because of the way student income is treated. Can she withdraw her UC claim and stay on tax credits?

A. Possibly, if she acts quickly. Under the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations, Reg 8, an award of tax credits terminates when a UC claim is made and the DWP is satisfied that the claimant meets the basic conditions regarding age, not receiving education and being in Great Britain. At some point, a stop notice is issued by DWP to HMRC, and the tax credits award ends. However, as explained in this article, this may be automatic in some cases, but for example if the claimant says that they are in full-time education, further enquiries are needed for the DWP to be satisfied that an exception applies and the claimant meets the basic conditions of entitlement. If she can withdraw her UC claim before the stop notice is issued, then tax credits entitlement should not end