POLITICALLY SPEAKING: Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton MP Yvette Cooper on recent errors in the tax credits payment system

It's hard to believe that in 21st century Britain, parents are having to skip meals so they can afford to feed their children.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 20th October 2016, 11:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 7:11 pm

Yet that is exactly what is happening as a result of government screw ups over tax credit payments.

The government set to up a contract with private company Concentrix to do assessments and they’ve made thousands of errors in the payment system. It’s hit our area with families across Wakefield and the Five Towns losing tax credits that they are entitled to. It’s been going on for months now and ministers still haven’t got a grip.

And for those families that have been hit, the impact is massive. I’ve had parents contacting me who rely on tax credits to top up their wages so they have enough to live on.

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Some of them have gone days without eating in order to afford to feed their kids and have been struggling for weeks to sort out the mess that Concentrix has caused.

I’ve even spoken to one parent with diabetes who’s been skipping meals, risking a diabetic episode and serious health problems as a result. It’s just appalling.

Tax credits are there to help with the cost of raising kids. They are vital for family finances and this chaos just isn’t good enough.

Especially when people simply cannot afford to pay their bills or feed their family as a result.

When the first errors came to light in August, why did ministers at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) not realise what was happening?

Why didn’t they step in at that point before things got out of control?

There are no excuses for this.

They’ve now said they are assessing whether Concentrix will have its contract taken away.

But why are they taking so long?

It doesn’t help all those families who have been left short of money and who have been waiting months to get a resolution.

I’ve contacted ministers to demand urgent action and I’ve been helping local families that have been affected to get their money sorted out as fast as possible.

If anyone else locally has had their tax credits unfairly taken away recently, get in touch with your MP for help.

But I’m also calling on ministers to stop dragging their feet and take this matter seriously.

When massive errors have obviously occurred - as has happened in this situation - ministers should be putting more resources into sorting the problem out.

Working families across our area have already been hit by tax credit cuts, pay squeezes or children’s centre closures.

Parents are working really hard to support their children and make ends meet yet government screw ups are badly letting them down.

It’s time these ministers got a grip.