Judge throws out HMRC's case
Scottish welfare rights groups have hailed a victory after HMRC lost an appeal in the Court of Session over refugees claiming child tax credits.
It is the first successful social security test case for refugees and tax credits in the UK with a similar case coming before the England and Wales Court of Appeal next week.
Although tax credits were abolished and replaced with Universal Credit on 1 February 2019, the law provided that particular groups of claimants – including refugees – with preserved rights if their claim was for a period that included 31 January 2019.
UK social security law preserved the right to claim child tax credits from the original date of a claim for asylum in the UK, so long as a claim was made within one month of the date of refugee status.
However HMRC argued that no such claim could ever be made as it was no longer possible to claim tax credits since the roll out of Universal Credit. The Court of Session disagreed.
The petitioners and respondents were represented in court by Govan Law Centre's solicitor advocate, Mike Dailly.
Rachel Moon, senior solicitor at Govanhill Law Centre said: “This is an important decision. Scotland highest civil court has confirmed that refugees who applied for asylum prior to 1 February 2019 have retained the important right to make a claim for a backdated payment of child tax credit.
“We would strongly encourage any refugees who applied for asylum before 1 February 2019 to seek advice to ensure that they receive all the payments they are entitled to.”
It is not known how many refugees have applied for a backdated payment of child tax credit after Universal Credit was introduced, only to be told it wasn't possible for HMRC to process their claim.
Govan Law Centre is now calling on the UK government to review past decisions made in cases such as these to ensure that all eligible claims for backdated tax credits are processed.
Moon added: “This successful outcome follows a tremendous amount of work by staff at Govan Law Centre and we want to thank our clients, Mr and Mrs Adnan, for pursuing this case. It's stressful to go through a long case like this. We also want to thank CPAG and its legal team of solicitors and barristers in London for their very kind collaborative approach.”