Young Unemployed Must Train Or Lose Benefits, Says Ed Miliband

jobseekers-allowanceYoung people who are looking for work could lose their benefits unless they agree to training courses under a Labour government according to its leader Ed Miliband.

The Labour leader who will be opposing David Cameron in the next general election announced his plans during a speech at the Institute For Public Policy Research. It is part of a series of measures aimed at making work pay; a fight back against criticisms that the Labour Party is too lenient on welfare.

His plans include disallowing 18 to 21 year olds entitlement to adult benefits if they have no qualifications. Instead, they will get a youth allowance if they accept vocational training equivalent to an AS level. Under the current Job Seekers Allowance system, you cannot be in training and claiming for benefits at the same time.

The youth allowance is currently planned to be £57, which is the same that is currently afforded to people who are under 25 on Job Seekers Allowance. It will, however, be means tested so that those with a family earning more than £42,000 per year will not be entitled.

In his speech, Ed Miliband also states his intentions to raise the Job Seekers Allowance from £72 to £100 a week for those who had been in work for five years before being made unemployed.

Ed Miliband said:

[quote]How many times have I heard people say: ‘for years and years, I paid in and then when the time came and I needed help I got nothing out?’ Rewarding contribution was a key principle of the Beveridge Report. And it is a key intuition of the British people. But it is a principle that has been forgotten by governments of both parties.[/quote]

Conservative MPs have hit back against the party’s plans claiming it will just lead to an even greater amount of spending and borrowing at the expense of taxpayers. Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said that it’s an expensive commitment.

Britain’s largest trade union and Labour’s biggest financial backer, Unite, has praised the plans. They have, however, criticised the use of threats in Ed Miliband’s speech calling in “Tory rhetoric”.

Steve Turner, the assistant general secretary, said:

[quote]Our young people did not cause the economic crash and shouldn’t be made to pay for it. Any idea that they want a life on benefits is risible when all they want is a decent job and a future.[/quote]

Overpaid Tax Credits Cause Debt Problem

taxcreditsIn the last three years, the number of people in Wales who are having debt problems from overpaid tax credits has sharply risen. This is according to new figures gathered by Citizen’s Advice.

The charity said there are more than 1300 people living in Wales who got in touch with Citizen’s Advice about tax credits between 2013 and 2014. It was a result of errors at HM Revenue And Customers due to people’s incomes rising unexpectedly. However, the government department has stated that there has been a reduction in over payments since 2012.

The BBC spoke to a nurse from Pembrokeshire, Wales who was told by HM Revenue And Customers  that she owed £10,000 dating back to 2009. Amanda Worth, who lives with her husband and teenage son, said she had no idea she was in debt with Inland Revenue and suddenly started receiving enormous bills on a daily basis.

She said:

[quote]We received 10 letters in one day which indicated we had an over payment for each year dating back five years for amounts between £2,000, £3,000 and £400 – totaling £10,000. They asked us to pay them back within a month. It was shocking, absolutely shocking. I didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden you’re in debt. I tried to contact them but it was a bank holiday. When we tried to contact them on the Tuesday, it took over an hour and a half to get the right telephone number to actually speak to somebody instead of something automated telling you what you want.[/quote]

Citizen’s Advice figures suggest that there were just over 900 Welsh people who came to them with issues about similar debts related to tax credit over payment in 2010 and 2011. This has gone up by a staggering 45% over the last 12 months to 1329 people. In England, this is an even higher 52% from 12,000 to 18,300.

Sian Williams, who is the project manager at Flintshire Citizen’s Advice, said:

[quote]People find it very stressful. They can be quite anxious; we’ve had people in tears. It’s quite scary to receive a demand from HMRC. A lot of people may just believe that they have to pay it back and it must be their fault. But actually people should get advice and sometimes it could be challenged.[/quote]

HM Revenue And Customs offered some advice to those who may find themselves in this situation.

[quote]If an over payment occurs as a result of HMRC’s error, claimants do not need to repay the overpaid money. An over payment only needs to be repaid if a claimant has failed to meet their responsibilities in telling HMRC of any changes of circumstance.[/quote]

Single Parents Penalised By New Child Maintenance Regulations

Single parents are expected to be penalised by the new child maintenance rules that came into play at the end of last month, child-maintenance-contactexperts claim.

The new rules mean that parents applying to use the Child Maintenance Service will be charged a £20 application fee,  as well potential extra fees for the collection of payments. The changes are predicted to have a negative effect on single-parent and perhaps low-income families who are most likely to need the Child Maintenance Service’s support.

Stephen Lawson, head of litigation at FDR Law, said:

[quote]”In the real world, we know ‘paying parents’ for a wide variety of reasons sometimes fail to pay their regulay payments to support their children. Many struggle financially after the breakup of a relationship and these new rules will make supporting their children that much harder.

Former partners will also suffer. They will receive less maintenance support and will now be penalised for a situation that is outside their control.”[/quote]

As well as the initial £20 application fee to use the Child Maintenance Service, paying parents will be charged a 20% admin fee for every payment they make via the Collect and Pay service. The receiving parent will also have a 4% deduction made on every Child Maintenance payment they receive.

This means that for every £100 assessed, the paying parent (who does not have the main day-to-day responsibility of the child) will actually have to pay £120. The receiving parent, meanwhile, that takes care of the child, will only receive £96 after the admin fee of £24 has been deducted.

Over the next few years, the Child Support Agency will be gradually replaced with the Child Maintenance Service, and all cases will be transferred accordingly. Parents will have a month to change to the new Direct Pay system, which deducts no extra fees for the paying and receiving of Child Maintenance, and pay any money they owe.

However, if they choose to stick with the Collect and Pay system, the new fees will be added to every maintenance payment handled.

Stephen Lawson advises that parents can avoid admin charges by making private agreements and by paying every instalment on time. Family charity Gingerbread also has an online tool to help families understand the new system and how this could affect them,

Lawson added:

[quote]These rules are designed to make people take responsibility for their own finances. But instead the very parents who need extra help will be let down by a system designed to support them.[/quote]

Inland Revenue Helpline Phone Number

 0843 178 4204

You can no longer contact Inland Revenue as its own separate department. Since April 2005, the Inland Revenue Department merged with HM Customs and Excise. All responsibilities for both governmental departments now come under HM Revenue and Customs. For this reason, when you call 0843 178 4204 to reach Inland Revenue, it will connect you to HMRC instead.

Inland Revenue Contact Numbers

Inland Revenue was responsible for the collection of several types of tax. HMRC now deals with all of these. By calling these numbers for help with the relevant taxes, you will reach HMRC. They will then provide the same service to you as Inland Revenue would have. See below for phone helpline opening hours and further down the page for postal addresses for each department.

Department
Phone Number
Opening Times
General Enquiries
0843 178 4204
(Mon-Fri) 8am – 8pm
(Sat) 8am – 4pm
(Sun) 9am – 5pm
Income Tax
0843 178 4205
(Mon-Fri) 8am – 8pm
(Sat) 8am – 4pm
(Sun) 9am – 5pm
Capital Gains Tax
0843 178 4206
(Mon-Fri) 8am – 8pm
(Sat) 8am – 4pm
(Sun) Closed
Stamp Duty Land Tax
0843 178 4207
(Mon-Fri) 8.30am – 5pm
(Sat) Closed
(Sun) Closed
Petroleum Revenue Tax
0843 178 4208
(Mon-Fri) 8.30am – 5pm
(Sat) Closed
(Sun) Closed
Tax Credits
0843 178 4209
(Mon-Fri) 8am – 8pm
(Sat) 8am – 4pm
(Sun) 9am – 5pm

General Enquiries

If you have any questions relating to Inland Revenue, call 0843 178 4204. HMRC can give you more information about the Inland Revenue services they now control. They can also direct you to the specific department that you want to contact Inland Revenue for. When you call about paying taxes you owe, you should have your personal details ready, such as your National Insurance Number. Send any written letters to the address below for HMRC to forward.

HM Revenue and Customs
Benton Park View
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE98 1ZZ

Income Tax

You must pay tax on most types of income, which your employer usually deducts from your paychecks. People in self-employment have to report their earnings and fill out Self Assessment tax returns. HMRC oversees the payment of Income Tax now, so call 0843 178 4205 if you have concerns relating to this tax. Contact HMRC to update your tax code if your income changes, as you may get a refund for any tax deductions if your income is under the Personal Allowance limit.

Pay As You Earn and Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AS
United Kingdom

Capital Gains Tax

When you sell or dispose of an asset after an increase in its value, you must pay tax on the gain. Some assets are tax-free, and you won’t have to pay tax if your gains for the year are lower than the tax-free allowance. Call 0843 178 4206 to report your capital gains for the tax year, or for help with working out if you owe any tax on your gains. Where you would have contacted Inland Revenue about this, HMRC now handles tax reports and payments on capital gains.

Capital Gains Tax Queries
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1AS
United Kingdom

Stamp Duty Land Tax

You have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax when you buy property above £125,000-£150,000 in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If you’re buying your first home, you might have to pay less or even no tax. HMRC may charge you interest if you don’t send a tax return and pay the tax within 30 days of completing ownership of the property. Call 0843 178 4207 for assistance with calculating your Stamp Duty Land Tax, or to claim tax relief or an exemption from tax.

BT – Stamp Duty Land Tax
HM Revenue and Customs
BX9 1HD
United Kingdom

Petroleum Revenue Tax

Profits from UK oil and gas production are subject to taxes. This only applies to “taxable fields” from earlier than 16th March 1993. From 1st January 2016, Petroleum Revenue Tax has a rate of zero. This means that taxable fields can become non-taxable if they are withdrawn from the PRT scheme. Call 0843 178 4208 for more information on how this affects your income shares on production fields, or if you are responsible for a field and want to opt out of the PRT regime.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET

Tax Credits

Tax credits provide tax relief for people working for low income or who are responsible for children. This includes Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. The conditions for these types of tax credits are different, so call 0843 178 4209 if you need to check your eligibility. You can apply for tax credits in advance if you know your income is going to drop. If you want to backdate your claim for more than the standard 31 days, contact HMRC to find out who is able to do this.

HM Revenue and Customs
Tax Credit Office
BX9 1ER
United Kingdom

Inland Revenue Contact Details

Inland Revenue was also responsible for the following departments. Click the links to find the current contact details for these departments, which are now run by HMRC.

Labour Considers Offering Month Of Paternity Leave For New Fathers

Labour is considering offering new fathers a month of paternity paternity-leave-ukleave, instead of  two weeks, should it get into power at the next general election.

The government party says that fathers of newborns will get four weeks of paternity leave instead of just two, and be paid twice the current rate, in a bid to encourage fathers to spend more time with their young children.

Experts also say that the move could help fathers become better role models for their children in later life, thanks to creating stronger bonds with their newborns from the earliest stage.

The proposed plans come from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank (IPPR), whose ‘Condition of Britain’ report includes 30 costed ideas that could help form the basis of Labour’s manifesto. It argues that the current rate of paternity leave is the main reason many dads choose to go back to work early.

Statutory Paternity Pay is currently £3.45 an hour, which some companies top up with income – known as ‘enhanced’ paternity pay. They can also receive ‘additional paternity leave‘, whereby the mother transfers some of her maternity leave over to her partner should she wish to return to work early.

However, it has been found that only 55 percent of men choose to take their full entitlement of paternity leave available to them by the government.

IPPR says the rate of pay should be increased to the national minimum wage of £6.31 an hour, to encourage more men to stay at home with their young ones. The move would also allow mothers more freedom of choice over returning to work after having the baby, and make this transition easier.

IPPR’s senior research fellow Kayte Lawton said:

[quote]Fathers who take more than a few days off around the birth of their child are more likely to be actively involved in raising their child than those who do not.

“Their greater involvement in family life will also make it easier for mothers to return to work after taking maternity leave, which would help raise the family’s income and lessen the impact of motherhood on women’s careers.”[/quote]

Labour is currently studying the proposals, which would require £150 million in funding, to ensure the necessary costs can be met. If the proposal is passed it will become part of Labour’s manifesto for the next general election.

However, Conservative skills minister said the benefit would be too expensive to implement, and would “mean even more spending, more borrowing and more taxes”.

“Exactly what got us into a mess in the first place,” he remarked.