meaningful results



(Tax) Credit records

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a short paper on claims to Working Tax Credit by migrants in the UK using information obtained from HMRC using the Freedom of Information Act. I'd only asked for it because my interest was piqued by newspaper reports that ministers had said they didn't know how many migrants were claiming in-work benefits, which seemed decidely odd. Maybe they just hadn't asked their officials. 

Anyway, it attracted some attention, and Jonathan Portes helpfully pointed out in his NIESR blog that it would be useful to have numbers for other kinds of tax credits claims too. Jonathan and I both asked HMRC for some more information and it proved a rather difficult and lengthy journey. But we got there in the end and using the data he had obtained on more detailed claimant breakdown and I'd obtained on total payments I was able to produce this summer a more comprehensive picture of who was claiming tax credits and in what broad amount, reflecting claims in payment in March 2013. 

As the sole source of data based on administrative records rather than surveys of recipients it seems to have proved useful to the wider world and used to underpin the House of Commons Standard Note on the subject as well as a variety of research, including by the government's own Migration Advisory Committee. 

As it had taken some months to obtain the necessary data, once I'd written the paper another year's figures should have become administratively available, so I asked for an updated set reflecting claims in payment in March 2014. This time there wasn't any difficulty in getting them and they were even supplied within the first FOI deadline (thanks Teresa and Phil at HMRC).   

So not that long after the last paper I'm able to provide another to share the more recent data. As before it simply presents information to add to the evidence base and help a debate that might otherwise be informed only by guesswork. The figures can be looked at from either end of the telescope and I'm sure will look different from different perspectives.

The latest paper with 2014 figures should display or download depending on your browser behaviour here (with thanks to Jonathan for comment on draft).

The previous paper with 2013 figures is here.