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Mum's tax credit agony

PUBLISHED: 00:13 17 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

UNDER-staffed inland revenue offices are so overwhelmed by the new tax credit system that they can not cope, an angry Ipswich mum claimed today.

Rachel Alexander hasn't received the tax credit payment she is entitled to - even though she was told in December that the office had received her application.

UNDER-staffed inland revenue offices are so overwhelmed by the new tax credit system that they can not cope, an angry Ipswich mum claimed today.

Rachel Alexander hasn't received the tax credit payment she is entitled to – even though she was told in December that the office had received her application.

Since then she heard nothing until she contacted the office herself in April.

Then officials said they still thought she lived at her old address – although they had already written to her current home.

"Eventually an officer told me that they had so much work they'd had to take on new people.

"They didn't know what to do with any applications which had a query so they just pushed them to one side and hoped they'd go away.

"That's presumably where my application went because of the address problem – but they knew where I lived because they'd written to me there!"

Eventually Mrs Alexander, 27, who lives at Martinet Green on the Ravenswood estate, was forced to claim an emergency payment from the tax office.

She applied last August to get £80 a week in tax credits and in December got a letter from Inland Revenue at her home address to say they had received her claim and were dealing with it.

She could expect to hear whether she would get the money by January.

She waited to hear but by April 2 – when the new benefit should have started – the Inland Revenue had still not been in contact.

She was unable to reach anyone at the Inland Revenue by phone – its system collapsed because of the number of people trying to call.

Eventually she found out the payment had been stopped because the Inland Revenue were working on an old address.

"They said they had my old address – but I've lived here three years and they clearly had that because they'd written to me."

At the end of April Mrs Alexander went the tax office at St Clare House in Ipswich and was given five weeks emergency tax money.

"But there's no guarantee that's what I'm entitled to – and it could be that I eventually have to pay some of it back," she said.

When she was there she was told the claims were being processed by untrained staff.

She reapplied with updated claim and has still heard nothing.

Mrs Alexander has now written a formal letter of complaint to the Inland Revenue.

Mrs Alexander works part-time and is entitled to tax credits to boost the family's income because her husband receives incapacity benefit.

She has a three-year-old son Tyreece and also looks after her two step-children some of the time.

She said the money was vital to boost the family's income.

An Inland Revenue spokeswoman said it was their policy to deal with all taxpayers and tax credit applicants fairly.

"We certainly would not just put applications to one side if there was a query – if there is a problem then she should write to us and we will try to sort it out," she said.

The number of people manning Inland Revenue phone helplines had been boosted from 2,000 to 2,700 – but officials accepted it was still difficult for people to make contact.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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