In receipt of Child & Tax Credits Yet LEA Won't Accept Claim(14 Posts)
Basically, our circumstances have changed since 06 April and we now fall into the bracket for receiving Working and Child Tax Credits and free prescriptions, glasses etc. However, because our claim fell between HMRC's dates of 06/05/13 and 31/7/13, the award has the term "provisional". I have contacted them and that's a term they use on the award letter, for claims and changes of circumstances that fall between those two dates. If a change occurs between 31/7/13 and 05/04/14, then the letter would be termed as an amended or amendment.
We are eligible to receive/claim a free bus pass for our DC because our income is less than £16k and we receive Working Tax Credits. Our award letter clearly states our income and the awards amounts. This can also be proven as correct by the fcat that my bank account shows those amounts deposited. However, our LEA won't accept the awards letter from HMRC because of their use of the term "provisional". Even though I have explained that it is a definite award (obviously subject to the post 31/7/13 "wash-up") they will not accept our claim, saying that it is not a real ie confirmed claim. I have offered to show them my bank account but they refuse to accept this.
The upshot of this, is that we have to wait until we receive our award letter from HMRC in about 6 weeks and then the LEA takes 6 weeks to process a claim. This takes us through to roughly the end of October and we can't afford the bus fares due to our very low income
The LEA have misunderstood the term provisional: I asked the head of department what she thought HMRC meant when they use the term "provisional" and she replied that it meant we must be self-employed, or that they were still processing the claim . They don't accept that this is what we have been assessed at.
The sad thing about this, is that if someone's financial circumstances mean they receive WTC/CTC but their claim falls after 31/7/13 their claim for fsm or free travel pass in all probability, will not be accepted because of HMRC's terminology and the LEA's lack of understanding of what it means; ie putting their own interpretation on it.
We're stuffed: all we can do it wait until we get the HMRC letter
Sorry, that should say
However, because our claim fell between HMRC's dates of 06/04/13 and 31/7/13, the award has the term "provisional".
I suggest you contact your local Councillor/MP and get them to intervene.
Failing that what about your local newspaper?
That's what we think we're going to be left doing, creamteas.
The departmental manager, who misunderstood the term "provisional", stated that she's never come across this before. I don't for one minute believe, that in the 5 years she's been there (we've had dealings with her before over transport), she has never come across anyone who has been issued a "Provisional" HMRC Tax Credits statement by virtue of when their claim was assessed/reassessed, as a result to a change in financial circumstances
Has anyone else come across this?
Anyone got any ideas what else we can produce? We get Child and WTC and NHS Exemption Certificates: the latter is issued as a result of our low income and WTC assessment.
As far as evidence is concerned, their website asks for the following:
1. Free School Meal evidence from another authority/school.
2. Job Seekers Allowance (Income based)*
3. Child and/or Working Tax Credits evidence for current tax year (full copy) showing total annual household income of less than pounds 16,190
4. Pension Guarantee Credit *
5. Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)*
6. Income Support
7. Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 *
*Evidence of any qualifying benefit must be dated within last 6 weeks.
Note that point three makes no mention of "provisional" or "amended" awards' evidence being unacceptable. Our statement clearly shows total annual household income of less than pounds 16,190.
You might well find that your MP is the quickest and easiest route. I have known quite a few people who have been pleasantly surprised by how effective (and swift) this intervention can be. I don't suppose it always works - but I've known lots of cases, for various things, where it has.
Who knew MPs could be so useful
Go above her head to her head of service or Director. She's clearly a bit dim and incompetent. Attach the evidence and it will be dealt with swiftly.
I agree re asking to escalate this to someone more senior at LEA. Also the FSM claim is normally made through the school and it is a simple form to complete as it is a declaration that you make rather than requiring lots of evidence. Your children will also be entitled to pupil premium, which schools spend in various different ways to provide additional support to FSM children, so well worth ensuring the school knows ASAP as they will be able to claim more money for your DC and hopefully back date this to April.
Sadly we can't get FSM springrain, as their guidance says that if you receive Working Tax Credit, you're not allowed to claim . If you get Child Tax Credit you can claim.
The income threshold where I live for FSM is £16,000.
Here's a link to their guidance, where it say if you get WTC you can't claim
The income threshold seems to be £16190 - the same as free transport
Essex is correct on FSM. You are entitled if you receive Child Tax Credit provided you don't also receive Working Tax Credit and your annual gross income is no more than £16190.
Regarding the transport issue you should escalate it or, if that isn't possible, ask to appeal against the decision.
Get youir councillor to intervene
They finally got back to us this morning, despite being asked yesterday to specifically not call our home line. Also, we were told that the departmental manager was off on sick leave last week yet they've told me now, that they'd been trying to call since Wednesday and had left messages ....um, if they had the wrong number, then how come they could call me on my correct number now? It's not like they could look us up as we're ex-directory.
Anyway, they will give a discretionary award to us. However, they are holding fast to their policy of refusing to accept a "Provisional" Working or Child Tax Credits award letter as evidence/proof, as they claim HMRC backed up their belief that it's not a confirmed award. She claimed it could be changed at any time - however, this logic is flawed because so could a "confirmed" one, issued as a result of the annual 31/7 HMRC Working Tax and Child Tax Credits wash-up.
Their refusal to accept that what it says on the HMRC awards letter, is what you're going to get paid, is frankly stunning. They (Essex County Council) ask for proof of low income and there it is on the HMRC letter in black and white.
So, it's a sad state of affairs for any low-income families in Essex who are eligible to apply for free school transport because you won't get it with a "provisional" or "amended"award letter.
I'd like to battle this on behalf of others but as they've given a discretionary award, we can't appeal.
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