I thank the Minister for her response. She will be aware that a considerable amount of tax credits have been overpaid through no fault of the claimant and that, when they have to pay the money back, it causes considerable hardship. I recently wrote to her about a case in which the claimant had put her income down on the claim form, but not in the specific box required. She subsequently confirmed that that was her income, but was then overpaid because the Inland Revenue was unable to take account of what she had reported to them. She is now faced with a bill for £3,500, which she cannot pay back. Will the Paymaster General look into that case, and into the whole issue of overpayments that are absolutely no fault of the claimant?
I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would not want me to conduct an MP’s surgery here in Treasury Questions—[Hon. Members: “Go on.”] Perhaps I should not have said that. The hon. Gentleman should write to me on that specific case and I will look into it—a facility that I offer to all Members. I remind him that during 2003-04, the first year of the scheme’s operation, 54,000 families received tax credits. In 2004-05, that figure rose to 60,000, and some of those families, because of their income, benefited to the tune of £2,400 or more. The crucial point is that tax credits in Gloucestershire and everywhere else are contributing to lifting children out of poverty and assisting families and parents to return to work.