Working Families took a call on our legal advice line from Jenny, a mother whose family had been forced to pay back a tax credit ‘overpayment’ they simply couldn’t afford. Although both she and her partner worked, they were struggling to make ends meet and to provide the essentials for their children. Jenny explained they had high monthly rent, debt on a car they needed for work, and had to pay for school meals.
Jenny and her partner Neil had split up in the past and Jenny had claimed tax credits as a single parent. When they got back together and had a second child, HMRC did not believe they hadn’t been a couple all along – leaving the family to repay everything she’d claimed as a single parent.
Because of what had happened in the past, the family was now reluctant to claim tax credits, even though they knew this income would really help them make ends meet. Working Families advisors told Jenny she could challenge HMRC’s decision and make a complaint about their refusal to believe the family’s change in circumstances.
Working Families reassured Jenny that nothing in the family’s previous experience suggested that the same thing would happen again, especially if they made sure that they kept records of all contacts with HMRC and told them about any change in their circumstances. Armed with this knowledge and feeling confident about her rights, Jenny’s family made a successful claim.
Without the support from Working Families, Jenny, her partner and children would have continued to struggle.
Jenny is just one of almost 3,000 parents who contact our legal advice line each year seeking advice on issues such as maternity/paternity discrimination and flexible working. If you need advice, you can reach our free advice line on: 0300 012 0312
A donation of £10 per month could pay for a specialist adviser to support four low-income working families over the course of a year, helping them to understand their childcare options, claim in-work entitlements and access to financial support.