Talks over tax credit and benefit payments ‘distress’

Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney.
Sinn Fein Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney.

Sinn Féin politicians from Derry have met with the DHSS in the city to discuss the crisis created by withholding tax credit entitlements from local families.

Local elected representatives have also met with Concentrix to raise concerns over its handling of benefit assessments and payments.

Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said meetings were arranged due to financial distress being caused to local claimants.

He said: “We raised queries around how the DHSS might be able to ease the hardship faced by people due to cuts. We asked the DHSS to take into consideration the financial difficulty being created with people’s payments being delayed and stopped and highlighted the difficulties caused when people get money paid into their account on a regular basis, have budgeted it out, and all of a sudden it stops.

“The DHSS, who have no role in Tax Credits, have advised that they would discuss the matter with a view to being considerate in terms of discretion that they can apply to those who present themselves to them. They pointed out that people may qualify for a crisis loan even if they are not on benefits.”

He added that one of the outcomes of the meeting with Concentrix was the establishment of a direct line with the SF constituency office to look at cases raised with us were people are in serious difficulties. Mr. McCartney said Sinn Féin believes that the assessment process should not be outsourced and said they would now challenge HMRC on progress on outstanding cases.