The tax credit helpline that no-one answers

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A CHILD tax credit helpline has been blasted after Wigan parents tried ringing it but no-one picked up!

A member of the Ince-based Unify Credit Union said that its staff had made several attempts to call the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office with regards to child tax queries, but there was no answer. The employee added that several of its clients were upset that they too were unable to speak to a member of staff when they needed them most.

But a spokesman for HMRC said that due to high demand in people leaving their renewal of child tax credit applications to the last day - on July 31 - it set up an automated answering services asking for non-urgent inquiries to call back after August 5.

The message stated: “Please be aware that you may have to wait some time to speak to an adviser as we are very busy right now.

“If your call isn’t about your renewal, an urgent payment inquiry or to tell us about a change in your circumstances, please call back after August 5. You can also find lots of information about Tax Credits online at www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits, including help with what you’ll need to do to complete your renewal.”

The department had even extended the deadline on July 31 from 8pm until 10pm to handle the large amount of renewals, despite an advertising campaign stemming as far back as February to fill in applications early.

Bob Gaiger, a HMRC spokesman, said: “HM Revenue and Customs undertake an extensive advertising campaign each year which includes a message on renewing early to avoid the last minute rush. We also encouraged claimants to renew by post to save their call waiting time during peak periods.

“Callers who made non-urgent inquiries to the tax credits helpline were asked to call back after August 5 so that we could deal with tax credit renewals, urgent payment enquiries and changes in circumstances.”

People can claim Child Tax Credit for each child they are responsible for if they are under 16 or under 20 and in approved education or training.