The story that broke last week that thousands of low income families with disabled children were paid up to £4,400 too little in tax credits (after data was not shared between the authorities) is pretty shocking. Click here to view the article. Even more shocking is that whilst HMRC has told the BBC that it would repay the money from 2016 to 2017, and ensure payment in the future years, it would not repay the money for previous years. This decision not to rectify the under payment for earlier years is a decision to deprive the most vulnerable in our society of their entitlement.
At Kingsley Napley we represent many families with children with disabilities from all backgrounds. Families who are coping with children with the most severe disabilities are stressed and exhausted and need all of the support that the state can muster. To put the onus on them to understand what claims they should be making is to underestimate the complexities that come with living with a disabled child.
By definition the families who have been disadvantaged by this decision (those with a disabled child who qualify for disability living allowance and who also receive tax credits) are those who are struggling to make ends meet and working hard for low pay. In some cases English may not be their first language in which case understanding the complexities of the disability benefits system would be very difficult.
Our experience of dealing with children with cerebral palsy confirms that families who are dependent on the State for provision for their disabled child deserve and should get the best possible support. Where the State has made an error that they acknowledge has disadvantaged the most vulnerable people a compassionate State would without hesitation put the situation right and back date payment.