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Gildernew concerned with Tax Credit System

30 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew MLA has said that there are still major discrepencies within the tax credit system that are bringing misery to hundreds of people.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Families will still facing the prospect of severe hardship in the approaching months, because major problems wityhin the tax crdit system have not been rectified. Tax credit payments are still being stopped or cut due to overpayments. This system was meant to relieve hardship, not create it.

"The Citizens Advice Bureau has revealed that across Britain and this part of Ireland last year they advised on around 150,000 tax credit problems, and in the last 2 years the Citizens Advice Bureau here has received more than 12,000 reports and complaints about tax credit problems.

"In many of these cases, overpayments were the reasult of administrative error, or a failure to take action on the information supplied when individuals informed them of a change of circumstances affecting their claim. People are suffering through no fault of their own but because of error and incompetance within the tax credit system. This is unacceptable.

"The Chancellor pre-budget report announcement is welcomed, but this still is not adequate. The changes are do not come in to effect until November 2006.

"The recovery of overpayments must be made easier and a statutory right of appeal must to be introduced.

"The quality of the service needs to be improved considerably enhanced, so that people understand their entitlement and the responsibilities the system places on them. We also need the system to be administered within 6 counties in and not as it currently is from Preston." ENDS

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