Clause 6 - Notifications of changes of circumstances

Part of Tax Credits Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 15 January 2002.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 6:45, 15 January 2002

That was a helpful response, because it cleared up some of my misunderstandings about the way in which the system will work, although I am not sure that it was a reassuring response. In the system that the Minister is describing, changes to circumstances covered by the clause must be notified immediately or within three months, or whatever it turns out to be. Therefore, a change in a relationship or the birth of a child must be notified within three months. Changes in income do not have to be, but there will be a year-end reconciliation, if I understand

it correctly, although claimants will be at liberty to report such changes. However, the Minister used the phrase ''small changes'', which was the starting point for the amendment, although I accept that it was in the wrong place. He is almost agreeing that there needs to be some concept of small changes for the system to work.

To avoid pursuing the matter for too long, I accept the Minister's point that the amendment is to a clause that deals with changes in personal circumstances and not changes in income, and therefore does not work here. However, his description of year-end reconciliations concerns me a great deal, particularly when we are talking not simply about the few poor but about 6 million child tax credit recipients, many of whom have never made a tax return and who, as far as I can see, will now all have year-end reconciliations. I suspect that we shall return to that on the next clause, but I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.