"So much easier than
filling in forms" - Tax Credit customers praise HMRC's digital services
MORE than 1 million Tax Credit
customers completed their renewal using the new online tools ahead of the 31
July 2017 deadline, for the 1st time, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.
Proving increasingly popular with its handy tips and helpful advice, the
department's online services handled 43% of all renewals by supporting 170,000
customers through the process via webchat, and saw more than 35,000 customers
choose to submit their return through the new Tax Credit renewals app. Here's
what other Tax Credit renewal customers had to say:-
► "I have never used this before and found
it very easy. Great way to renew."
► "It's less stress for everyone, especially when you have children at home."
► "This service is quick, efficient and effective! Well done HMRC."
The services are so intuitive they even helped bring down demand on the phone
lines by around 20% in the run up to deadline day, with only 180,000
renewal related calls received in the last week of July 2017, compared to 222,000 the
A new trial SMS service, messaging customers to reassure them their renewal had
been received and was being progressed, also proved to be a success, with 85% of
recipients saying it gave them reassurance their renewal was being handled and
stopped them calling the Helplines.
Angela MacDonald, HMRC's Director General for Customers Services, said:-
"It's fantastic to see how many enthusiastic and positive responses our online
Tax Credit renewal services have received. We know renewing can be a chore and
no two lives are the same, that's why we're dedicated to transforming HMRC into
an organisation fit for the future, by developing new ways for our customers to
do this that suit them and their lifestyles."
Anyone who has not renewed will have their payments stopped and may have to pay
back any payments they've received since April 2017. They must contact HMRC
immediately, either online at:-
GOV.UK or over the phone:- 0345 300 3900.
Rail fares rising almost twice as fast
RAIL fares have increased at twice the
speed of wages since 2010, according to new analysis released today by the RMT
on the eve of the Government announcement on the latest fare hike. The
analysis shows that rail fares have risen by around 32% in 8 years, while
average weekly earnings have only grown by 16%. The rises mean for example
that a new Nurse or Police Officer, commuting from Chelmsford to London, where
annual season ticket would cost ₤4000, after the latest rise, would pay twenty%
of their salary on an annual season ticket. The findings come as the Government
is set to announce another round of regulated rail fare hikes for the coming
They will be warning that passengers are paying:- "more for less" because
even as fares rise rail engineering work is being delayed or cancelled, skilled
railway jobs are being lost and staff are being cut on trains, stations and
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:- "Government policy of suppressing
workers' wages while at the same time presiding over corporate welfare on our
privatized railway has resulted in a toxic combination of fare rises easily
outstripping wages. The private operators and Government say the rises are
necessary to fund investment, but the reality is that they are pocketing the
profits while passengers are paying more for less with rail engineering work
being delayed or cancelled, skilled railway jobs being lost and staff cut on
trains, stations and at ticket offices."
Merseyside to benefit from funding to
stop violence against sex workers
AN innovative project aimed at better
protecting street sex workers from sexual and domestic violence, exploitation
and trafficking will be launched on Merseyside and South Wales after receiving
₤650,000 of Home Office funding.
The Umbrella Project was awarded a share of the ₤17m Violence against Women and
Girls (VAWG) Service Transformation Fund after a successful collaborative bid
led by Merseyside's Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and Merseyside Police, in
partnership with South Wales Police.
The 3 year project will put in place victim focused processes to better support
sex workers who have already been victims of violence and those who are at risk,
both on the streets and online.
The funding, ₤463,000 of which will be used in Merseyside and ₤187,000 going to
South Wales, will enable the Police and partners to increase and improve the
support they can offer to street sex workers in light of a recent influx of
overseas sex workers and a shift which has seen more women take up the work
The funding will also be used to improve the gathering of intelligence on those
who inflict violence on the women, while simultaneously encouraging victims to
report offences, so that more perpetrators can be brought to justice. This will
also prevent further offences from taking place.
To support this work in Merseyside, the grant will be used to find an
appropriate venue to act as a 1 stop shop of support, where women can access
help and services, give statements and even give evidence in Court via
Merseyside's Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said:- "Merseyside has the
largest street beat of sex workers outside of London. Many of these women are
extremely vulnerable and are forced into this work because of difficult life
circumstances. This bid is designed to better support these women to ensure they
get the help they need, ideally so they can get off the streets, but for those
who remain, to ensure they are better protected and are able work free from
violence, abuse and exploitation. Merseyside Police has led the way for many
years in prosecuting and securing convictions against those who commit crimes
against sex workers, in large part by being the 1st Force in the country to
recognise these offences as hate crime. Merseyside also has a dedicated
Independent Sexual Violence Advocate for sex workers. By successfully applying
for this funding, Merseyside Police in conjunction with South Wales Police, will
be able to take this work to the next level; keeping more vulnerable women safe
and doing everything possible to end the stigma and marginalisation they face."
Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said:- "Sex work is an issue that
can be challenging for some communities however, as a Police service it is our
duty to seek to protect everybody, especially those who are the most vulnerable
within our communities, and this extends to all citizens including sex workers.
Merseyside Police force will not tolerate violence against sex workers and we
will make every effort to ensure that offenders are tracked down and face the
full force of the law and that victims receive the justice they so rightly
deserve. As a Force we have already taken a progressive stance, which has
influenced national policy. We treat attacks on sex workers as hate crimes,
because they a vulnerable targeted group. This money allows us to provide
support for the work around that vulnerable group of women and look towards
targeting violent and sexual offenders, as we know their crimes are not limited
solely towards targeting sex workers."
A total of 41 projects, including a bid by Liverpool City Council to provide
multi agency Early Help hubs, have been awarded a share of the VAWG Service
Transformation Fund, which aims to help prevent violence and increase early
intervention so that fewer women reach crisis point. 'The Umbrella Project' received the ⅛ largest amount of funding, after a bid
from South Wales Police Commissioner and the Mayor of London.