You might have heard in the news recently that Concentrix – a contractor hired by HM Revenue & Customs to cut tax credit fraud – won't have its contract extended after May 2017.
This comes after the firm was criticised for its performance and claims that many people had their tax credits wrongly stopped. HMRC say they will prioritise and process the cases of those who've had their tax credits stopped as soon as possible.
Believe your tax credits were unfairly stopped? We take you through how to appeal and get your credits backdated.
Concentrix were hired to help root out any fraud or error in the tax credit system. Its three-year contract began in May 2014 and was up for renewal in May 2017 – but we now know this won’t happen.
The Treasury has revealed 120 cases since last October where the company did not "fully" meet the performance standards outlined in its contract. A Facebook campaign group with 5,600 members says hundreds have been affected by the errors.
Complaints about the company include claims that payments were cancelled immediately, and withdrawn without the required 30 days' notice.
In just one case, a teenage mother had her child tax credits stopped after she was wrongly accused of being married to a dead 74-year-old man.
How to appeal
HMRC are taking over all new tax credit checks and any appeals that the public launch against Concentrix.
However, the US firm are still handling around 200,000 cases which are already open. The firm might be investigating your tax credits if you've already received notification of this – the firm has 30 days to respond.
Don't agree with one of Concentrix’s decisions? You can ask HMRC to reconsider this through something called a 'mandatory reconsideration'. All you have to do is fill in a form and send it with any evidence or documents you have to the Tax Credits Office.
You'll need to do this within 30 days of being notified of any changes. For updates on your case, you can phone HMRC's Tax Credits Office on 0345 300 3900.
If you're still unhappy after this, you can appeal further to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal in England, Scotland or Wales. Fill out the form and send it along with a copy of your mandatory reconsideration notice – you'll usually have to do this within a month of receiving it.
Your case will then be considered by a tribunal judge, and you can request a hearing if you want to attend. This process can take a few months. In Northern Ireland, you must appeal to the Appeals Service Northern Ireland.
If you can prove that your tax credits were wrongly stopped, you should receive backdated payments. These will be paid in one lump sum instead of several monthly payments.