Govanhill Law Centre - part of the Govan Law Centre Trust - acts on behalf of a number of A8 and A2 nationals in the field of social welfare law. In December 2011 we published a report ‘Unequal and Unlawful Treatment: Barriers faced by the Roma Community in Govanhill when accessing welfare benefits and the implications of section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.’
A particularly difficult case relates to a Slovakian National who has resided in the UK since September 2007. She is a single parent with two dependant
daughters, born July 2002 and April 2004. Our client received tax credits in
2008. In or around July 2010 tax credits
Our client appealed against the decision to terminate
payment of tax credits. Correspondence became increasingly protracted,
information was sought and supplied by our client, however, HMRC declined
payment and continued to request the same information over and over.
HMRC would not accept that our client had qualifying
children and repeatedly refused her application for tax credits in spite of
birth certificates, national identity cards and letters from the local school
confirming the same. In November 2011
our client was advised that she would receive tax credits, however this was
then withdrawn. Correspondence
continued, however no progress was made.
The opinion of advocate Joe Bryce was sought in an effort to
assist this particularly vulnerable client.
There has been chronic maladministration by HMRC, particularly in
dealing with A8 Roma. There have been unreasonable information requests,
unlawful retention of documents, a presumption of fraudulent behaviour, the
imposition of different and unnecessary procedures and inordinate delay.
There was no progress in this case since the April 2012 when
an appeal against the March 2012 decision because HMRC has never referred the
appeal to the Tribunal.
GhLC solicitor Donna Morgan said: "Counsel was of the
view that the client did not need to wait for the HMRC to notify her appeal to
the Tribunal; she could do it herself, with our assistance. The Tax Credits Act
2002 permits this unusual approach, so far as we are aware this is the first
successful appeal from an individual direct to the tribunal".
"Many direction notices were issued by tribunal
services giving HMRC the opportunity to respond, which they failed to do to
such an extent that HM Tribunal and Court Services found HMRC in contempt of court".
GhLC caseoworker, Jitka Perinova said: "Shortly
thereafter HMRC issued letters confirming that backdated payment would be made
from November 2010 to February 2013 would be paid. Substantial sums totallling almost £20,000
have now been paid to our client improving her quality of life and that of her