Strike forces HMRC to extend tax credit renewal deadline

Amid fears that industrial action taking place this week at tax offices around the country will lead to long delays on telephone support lines, HMRC has announced it is giving tax credit claimants an extra week to renew their tax credits claim if they have not already done so

Claimants that need to speak to an operator now have until 6 August to renew tax credits or they will lose the benefit.

This year, customers can renew their tax credits online for the first time at, although research has shown that so far of the 3.3m who receive tax credits, less than 10% (276,000) have renewed them online.

As well as the online service, customers can send their tax credits declaration to HMRC by post, or self-serve on the phone using the new automated speech recognition service on the tax credits helpline, by saying ‘renewals’ when prompted.

Lin Homer, HMRC chief executive, said: ‘We are very disappointed by the timing of the decision by PCS to call a strike to coincide with the tax credits renewal deadline. It is a great shame that the union is asking HMRC staff to strike, deliberately putting the livelihoods of hard-working families at risk to further an industrial dispute. We are giving people additional time to renew as we are determined to do everything we can to minimise the impact on tax credits claimants.’

Walkouts by members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) start today and will continue tomorrow and Friday in protest against planned job cuts, a new performance management system, and the closure of offices.

The PCS says HMRC is making more than 2,000 fixed-term workers compulsorily redundant despite its own business planning revealing a staffing shortfall, while all 281 walk-in tax enquiry centres have closed and a further 23 large sites across the UK are also likely to shut. 

Wednesday’s strikes are targeting North West England and Wales, while Thursday’s will focus on Scotland and the Midlands. On Friday there will be strikes in Yorkshire and Humberside and northern England, London and the south east, south west and east of England, and Northern Ireland.

The PCS said the strikes had been timed to coincide with the deadline for tax credit renewals and a key date for self-assessment payments.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘These strikes demonstrate we are serious about stopping these damaging cuts and making a positive case for proper investment in this crucial department.’

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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