Posts Tagged ‘Tax Credits’

Tax Credits and Debt Collection Agencies: Peachy’s Comment

May 31, 2014

In my last post, I put up Leoni al-Ajeel’s personal account of her problems with the authorities claiming that she had been overpaid tax credits on Mike’s piece on this problem over at Vox Political. The Coalition has passed legislation providing for the use of debt collection agencies against those the bureaucrats at Whitehall have deemed to have been overpaid them. The original legislation regarding overpaid tax credits provided for a buffer to give claimants the benefit of the doubt and so allow for the possibility that calculations they had been overpaid may in fact be mistaken. This leeway has been scaled back, according to Mike, to £5,000, making many more people vulnerable to claims and mistakes by the Inland Revenue.

It has seemed to very many of the commenters on Mike’s blog that this was another attempt by the government to exploit the poor, and also to deter them from claiming benefit by creating the fear of the official persecution that would ensue if they did so, and were then pursued by the authorities for debt. As well as Leoni al-Ajeel’s personal account of persecution by the authorities, another commenter, Peachy, has also posted a comment I feel is worth repeating here. Not only do they give their personal experience, but they also cite history and literature – Frank McCourt’s critically praised Angela’s Ashes– to show how the fear of debt has been used to keep the poor from claiming benefits that would raise them out of poverty. She writes

Creating the fear of claiming a benefit: I remember discussing that problem at college, and how it led to atrocious suffering during the American Depression of the first part of the 20th century, and how resolving that was one of the top things FDR had to address. I also remember reading about it in Angela’s Ashes, and how it encouraged families into extreme deprivation that was harmful to their very life chances.

Increasingly I am suspicious: the people most at risk of falling into this trap are the self employed, whose wages are paid not by annual agreement, but by how many calls they get offering work. I have some experience of this with my husband, and how those already established in a field view the newcomers (even those completely out of their area), as infringing on their basic right to own an entire market and speciality. Given that both Tories and UKIP are the parties of this attitude, it seems logical that there are links in this policy.

Pull up the ladder boys: make the rich secure and the poor poorer.

(It’s also irrefutable proof that there is no intention to promote work in reality, as I well remember having to refuse overtime I would have liked in the fear it would cause a tax credit overpayment).

It’s another example of the Tory and Tory Democrat’s attempts to keep the working and lower middle classes in their place. The time is long overdue that this was stopped, and the Tories and their Lib Dem collaborators kicked out.

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Government Terrorising Poor with Debt Collection Agencies: Leoni al-Ajeel’s Story

May 31, 2014

This morning I reblogged Mike’s post from over at Vox Political on the government’s use of debt collection agencies against people, who have been overpaid tax credits due to mistakes by the Inland Revenue, ‘Tax credit debt collection is a double-edged attack on the poor’. Many people have experienced problems with the authorities claiming that they have mistakenly overpaid benefit claimants, and threatening them with legal action. One of those, who have been a victim of this is Leoni al-Ajeel, one of the commenters on Mike’s blog. In her comment on Mike’s post, she gives her account of her struggle with the authorities, who repeatedly claimed that they had overpaid her. She writes

I also have debt with Tax credits, I received a letter saying I owe them £997 and I must pay it back. This is not the only letter I got, I got letter from council saying I had an overpayment of £1,500 in rent and I owe council tax for the amount of £616, so I am left paying all this debt plus rent council tax in my new home. I received a rebate twice from council tax saying I paid too much, one was for £98 then the second was for £100 then to get a letter after I had moved saying I owe £616 is ridiculous. So someone made the same mistake twice leaving me to pay for their mistake. They know all your income etc but yet we are punished for their mistakes. I am beginning to wonder if I owe any of this money they say I do because you get no explanation even though you ask for one. So now I am left with all this debt I never had before and struggle to pay this debt plus all the council tax and rent I have to pay in my new home. I was debt free but not now they have pushed me into debt, its disgusting that they can get away with this, should it not be them that is penalized for making these mistakes not once but twice. I work 30hrs a week and have to pay just short of £25 a week council tax and £56 a week rent and I am on minimum wage, plus the council tax and rent from old house.

And I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever that there are many thousands more like Leoni, forced into debt and fear through no fault of their own but that of bureaucrats in the Civil Service.

And this is, of course, another example of the Tory and Tory Democrat government’s massive double standards. As Mike points out in the above article, the Tories are persecuting the poor, who cannot fight back, while hundreds of millions of tax revenue has been lost through off-shore tax havens, set up to make their rich donors’ earnings more ‘tax efficient’.

It’s time this was reversed. The legislation giving such powers to debt collection agencies the right to persecute the poor should be immediately repealed, and the original leeway allowing for overpayment of tax credit to the poor through simple official mistakes – not fraud – should be reintroduced. And most of all, the Tories and their Lib Dem accomplices should be thrown out of office, and their rich paymasters forced to pay their fare share of the nation’s debts. Debts that they, after all, in the case of the bankers, created.

Scriptonite Demolishes Tory Neoliberal Economics

March 18, 2014

Osborne Pic

George Osborne: Robin Hood in reverse – robs the poor to pay the rich.

Today’s the day when Osborne will announce the budget, which I don’t expect to be anything else but the same Neoliberal policies of increased tax cuts to benefit the rich, more privatisation, and even more punitive welfare cuts. Following the way previous Tory governments have carried on, these policies will be announced as being ‘good for business’, ‘making Britain more competitive’, while the cuts to the welfare budget will be defended as necessary to pay of the immense debt the country inherited from the last Labour government. There will also be denials that the poor are being pushed further in poverty. Instead, the usual Tory response to this is to claim that they are merely concentrating help where it is most needed. Sometimes there are statements to the effect that the Tories have given more money to the welfare state in real terms than Labour. It’s all rubbish, and I’ve heard them so many times that I can repeat them myself.

Scriptonite Daily has put up an excellent demolition of Neoliberal, Monetarist economics that is well worth reading as an antidote to the poisonous, smooth verbiage likely to be utter by Osborne to defend his latest attack on the poor, the sick, elderly and disabled in the name of the wealthy. I found it through Mike over at Vox Political, who got it in turn from the Skwakbox. It’s entitled Britain’s 5 Wealthiest Families Richer Than Poorest 12.6 Million? It’s Time for a People’s Budget. It covers and names the very richest individuals, who collectively have more than the poorest section of British society, the way tax cuts for the rich force the tax burden on to the rest of us proles; the use of government subsidies to prop up the banks and financial sector, and the way the public is left paying far over the normal price for PFI hospitals; how government subsidies and privatisation of the utilities have resulted in private industry acquiring the most, and often immensely profitable, parts of these companies, while the tax payer is saddled with the debt, and how the government system of tax credits for the poorly paid actually subsidise poor wages. It finally ends with a list of issues which it would like to see addressed by a ‘People’s Budget’.

The piece is over at http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2014/03/17/britains-5-wealthiest-families-richer-than-poorest-12-6-million-its-time-for-a-peoples-budget/.