One of Mrs Duffy's questions yesterday has motivated me to write this post. She said she didn't receive help from the government [taxpayer] because didn't qualify for pension tax credit, owing to having her pension enhanced by a small pension transferred from that of her dead husband.
The PM suggested she try again, to which she implied she'd made several attempts but to no avail. His final comment was, "Try again." Does he know the procedure?
There must be a thousands of civil servants who deal only with pension tax credit. The government website suggests you may want to apply online and when you do and receive a maybe, they send you a lengthy form to complete which requires you to either pay a notary here in Scotland to swear an affidavit, or have the staff in your local job centre, will for free, photocopy your bank statements and any other papers you have regarding savings.
I stupidly took my application and savings documents to my job centre. I say stupidly with hindsight. My documents were removed from my possession and taken out of my range of sight, even though I suggested I'd prefer to be present when they were photocopied.
Don't be thinking popping into your local photocopying shop would be fine - it's not. The job centre staff have to sign and stamp the documents as well as photocopying them.
I regret the day I attempted to save money by going to my local job centre. For me, it felt like begging and a gross intrusion into a part of my life which is solely my business.
Of course I understand means testing is essential for tax credits but why have we reached the stage where so many people rely on them?
In my case, because Gordon Brown stole a chunk of my pension and I live on a very tight budget, I applied. Yes it said on the website. Then the form arrived and I duly completed it. Two months later, since I had had no response, I telephoned. "You earn £8.21 a week too much to qualify," was the decision. Why did that differ from the online questionnaire where it said I may be entitled. I can't remember the reply but it was obviously the standard one given to people who had the same query. We'll be on some database somewhere as 'being difficult pensioners'.
But this post isn't just about pension tax credits. It's about tax credits in general. Why are so many people, in a rich country such as the UK, having to rely on tax credits? There is child tax credit and working tax credit along side the humiliating pension tax credit. (I have no experience of the other two).
Doing my research I noticed there is a child tax credit available to those who earn up to £50,000. People can get 80p for every £1 they pay out in childcare costs. This is limited to £175 a week for one child and £300 for two or more children. This means the most that can be received for the childcare element of working tax credit is £140.
Now, I have no problem with helping parents who want/need to work and have fallen on unfortunate times or are unable to earn a reasonable living wage, but to pay this to parents who earn up to £50,000? Is it this tax credit which encouraged the younger generation to buy homes out with their income? Of course it was. They knew, in many cases the state would give aid.
Our benefits system came into being to help those who had fallen on hard times or were far less fortunate that most of us.
Now this government has created a benefit dependancy generation. What can we do about it?
Stop paying tax credits to those who earn, what I consider, is a very decent wage.
Stop taxing pensioners who earn less than £10,000 a year net. We don't want to apply for credits.
Labour have created a culture which feels no humiliation or embarrassment at asking for help from the taxpaying population. Too often I hear the words ' tax credits' in the present general election campaign.
Have labour no shame in suggesting people subsidise their income with tax credits when, as I said initially, we are what is classed a rich country?
Thanks to my loyal reader Surreptitious Evil for the legible graphic. Much appreciated.