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Tax Credit debt can be scrapped by Ritchie‏

19 December, 2007

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has today called for Social Development Minister Margaret Richie to give single parents a Christmas present by wiping out any debt accumulated by the discredited Tax Credit system.

Ms. Anderson said:

"There needs to be a moratorium on tax credit repayments for low-income families as many vulnerable families have been plunged into even greater financial hardship and distress because of the disarray within the Tax Credit system.

"Through no fault of their own, these families have been given overpayments because of the inefficient way the Tax Credit system is calculated.

"They are then faced with massive repayment demands which are causing incredible stress and which are literally taking food out of children's mouths.

"The Social Security Agency has the discretion to waive these repayments when they would cause undue hardship or when the overpayment was not the fault of the recipient.

"In the vast majority of cases, the overpayment has resulted because of a mistake by the Social Security Agency, yet rather than waving the repayments, they are pursuing them with an almost religious zeal.

"That is completely unacceptable and flies in the face of the Assembly's stated aim of eradicating child poverty by 2020.

"Given that context, I am calling on Margaret Richie to instruct the Social Security Agency to immediately begin using it's discretion to waive the repayments and stop demanding money from the most vulnerable people in our society. I will be urging the Assembly to review the entire Tax Credit system and to declare a moratorium on these repayments as a tangible step towards eradicating child poverty." ENDS

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