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hillards

Working Tax Credits taken away, Concentrix review

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I am not working due to disability, I get ESA and DLA plus a small pension. My wife works but only gets a low wage. For the last few years we've claimed Working Tax Credits (WTC) and sent HMRC all the required info, we've not held anything back or tried to hide anything. They do the maths and send us an award letter. As far as we're aware we've done all that's asked of us yet they have sent us overpayment letters every year.

 

Anyway, we recently got a letter from Concentrix, on behalf of HMRC, asking us for pay slips, evidence of my self-employment (?) and so on. We sent them off, with a cover letter to complain about being told to send originals by post - we used special delivery and will never see that extra cost back!

 

HMRC have told us they are stopping our WTC as they cannot determine that my wife works 30 hours. She is a home carer and changed company towards the end of last year. The sad nature of this line of work is that people go into hospital, or even die without any notice, which means the carer then loses out as the company they work for will not pay them for visits they don't do any more. It can take a while for them to gain a new client, or shuffle calls about, to give that carer more work.

 

We had not realised what the backlash of this would be. It is not my wife's fault that her hours were sometimes cut back. You can't really blame the people she was caring for either. It is possible that some weeks she worked less than 30 hours without realising, but it was not deliberate. Obviously she's lost money through doing less hours, which made the WTC even more vital towards being able to pay the bills.

 

Concentrix said they would send a fuller explanation and we would be able to ask for mandatory reconsideration, that was 3rd February, 4 weeks ago. We've heard nothing more from them. HMRC sent a letter to inform us the credits had stopped and they were claiming an overpayment. Concentrix also say they may be giving us a penalty charge. Can it get any worse !

 

Obviously we will appeal the decision as we feel it's not our fault. My wife may have to get a letter from her employer to explain any weeks she worked less than 30 hours. It is confusing anyway as she is paid in 4 week periods, not monthly. We are unsure if Concentrix have mis-calculated her pay and hours anyway. For example: a recent payslip shows she worked so many hours but also had a day off for which she was only given half a day holiday pay as she didn't have enough days available. Because of this her assumed hours averaged 29.75 over the 4 weeks.

 

Has anyone else had this sort of action taken ? Is there anything we can do ?


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You mention self employment but then say your wife has an employer.

 

Is she employed or self employed? This will make a difference as to what evidence she requires.

 

If your wife's hours dropped below 30hrs for 4 weeks or more then she would no longer be entitled to working tax credits.

 

Although I can understand you saying your wife hasn't chosen to reduce her hours, if she wishes to claim a benefit then she does need meet the qualifying criteria.

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You mention self employment but then say your wife has an employer.

 

Is she employed or self employed? This will make a difference as to what evidence she requires.

She is employed, they were asking about my self-employment. I am not, I'm on ESA and DLA through disability. I've not worked since 2011 and left self-employment in 2005. We found it odd that they asked for evidence of my self-employment.

 

If your wife's hours dropped below 30hrs for 4 weeks or more then she would no longer be entitled to working tax credits.

 

Although I can understand you saying your wife hasn't chosen to reduce her hours, if she wishes to claim a benefit then she does need meet the qualifying criteria.

She was not aware her hours had dropped below 30 a week, from what we can see they have miscalculated through taking her 4 weekly pay slips as being monthly. Even so, one of the days was holiday where she only got half a day's pay as it was.

 

No warning, they just took the money away at a time when we really needed it and threaten a penalty as well. Still waiting for their letter of explanation.


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We've now gone over her payslips and looked very carefully at the number of hours and found that one of the payslips submitted was incorrect. She is asking her employer to clarify and we'll send the correct information in. It was not only her holiday pay they got wrong.

 

What annoys me is that the Concentrix/HMRC people have just taken the wtc away, threatened a penalty and want repayment of what we've had already - without any reference to us at all. All the payslips prior were OK, it's just the one where the hours were wrong.

 

I telephoned Concentrix and the bloke I spoke to was the most obstructive I've ever had the misfortune to make contact with in any call centre. Even the guys who claim 'you are infecting our Internets' have more tact. I ended up putting the phone down before I swore !

 

A letter of complaint is on it's way to HMRC as soon as we have the clarification from her employer. I will also query why Concentrix asked about my self-employment, when I'm not working full stop and have not done so since becoming disabled.


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In light of the article in the Independent - http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/people-in-need-at-risk-of-losing-tax-credits-after-being-wrongly-accused-of-cheating-10060745.htm - I contacted my MP to let her know we had had our tax credits taken away thanks to the intervention of Concentrix. She has replied to say she will make enquiries on our behalf so I've been doing a bit of digging to find out where the claim is at present, who is dealing with it and so on. I can now pass that to her office.

 

It seems that any sort of appeal will have to go to Concentrix, which seems wrong to me. HMRC have washed their hands of the whole thing have they ? Concentrix say they have not yet had my letter of March 17th, sent first class. I make no wonder, they give an address of a PO Box in Lancing, which should really be Worthing according to the Post Office database, and then have to have it all sent over to Belfast ! I wonder who is paying for the second hop - oh, of course, the tax payer !

 

What they have done today, and not what I asked them to do, is to start the mandatory reconsideration process. I pointed out that that is useless without the letter and supporting evidence I sent. The supervisor I spoke to had no idea of procedures, he just wanted to get me off the phone. Of course, they will reach the same decision and will have wasted another 28 days in doing so. I'll then have to lodge an appeal against that decision, pointing out just why it was invalid.

 

I'm livid. All of this information is now being sent to MP. I don't know if they are still 'working' now that an election has been called. All this means is that we're not getting anywhere at all.


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Had a letter from my MP, on plain headed paper as they're 'off duty' at present, to say she has contacted Concentrix and HMRC on my behalf to see what's happening.


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No letters as yet, but wife tells me she's had a couple of payments into her account today... :-) Looks like we got through to someone.


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Please keep us updated with your progress.

 

I've also had my tax credits passed over to Concentrix. My payments have been reduced in the interim because I think the HMRC are questioning my self-employment. Tax credits cannot make any amendments because it is being handled by Concentrix, which leaves me short of childcare money.

 

Further problem is that the Concentrix systems have been down continuously for 2 days now, after being told yesterday morning that it would be a couple of hours - it doesn't inspire confidence.

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Had some post this morning. Two letters from HMRC. Both are the standard end of year notifications of their calculations, no mention of Concentrix or the suspension.

 

The letters details then payments they've just made, a catch up on 2014-15 and a small payment for 2015-16 with notification of when the next will be made and what the ongoing amounts will be.

 

We are back on track with them, but no wiser about the mandatory reconsideration process that must have taken place. As and when we get that, or if nothing arrives in the next week or so, I'll be sending in a complaint as their actions caused us some big problems, mainly in not being able to pay bills as we had to put credit on our pre-pay energy meters or be without heating etc.

 

They seem to have no consideration of how we are affected when they pull stunts like this. I object to a third party processing my information like this as well. Yet again it is proving that this sort of thing is not working properly.


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A brown envelope from Concentrix, advising that they are returning our original documents - they're returned my letter of complaint, but not said anything about it... :roll: It was obvious that this was not something that needed to be returned, unless it's their way of saying they are ignoring it ! All being logged and will eventually be added to a complaint to HMRC about these numpties.


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