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HMRC internal manual

Claimant Compliance Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Backdating rules for changes of circumstances

During the course of an intervention you will often find that a customer has failed to let us know about a change in their circumstances at the correct time. How you deal with this depends on if the change increases or decreases their award.

Change results in an increased award

Prior to 6 April 2012 any changes that would have increased entitlement, such as a new child in the family, could only be backdated to a maximum of 3 months.

Note: From 6 April 2012 any changes that will increase entitlement can only be backdated to a maximum of 1 month

Change results in a decreased award or change does not alter the award

Where the change would have decreased entitlement, such as a child or young person leaving the family, the award will be revised retrospectively back to the date of the change. However, where the change goes back as far as PY-1 you will need the documented approval of your HO manager to revise the award before PY, see CCM14105.

In addition to revising the award you need to consider if penalties are appropriate for the failure to notify the change of circumstances within the time limit, see CCM10140.

If the change does not alter the award it will be applied from the date of change.

More than one change to consider

If a situation occurs where you find changes of circumstances that both increase and decrease the entitlement, you need to consider each change separately and apply the backdating rules shown above to each change.

For example

Helen’s claim was selected for enquiry as we had evidence her hours were overstated. An enquiry into 2011/12 was opened on 03/09/12. We confirmed her hours had reduced from 37 to 24 on 15/05/11. As this was a change that decreased the award, losing the thirty hour premium, it was backdated to the date of change. It came to light during a phone call on 12/09/12 that Helen had a second child on 17/02/12. As this was a change of circumstances that increased the award she could only claim backdating to 12/08/12 (1 month prior to the date of the phone call). So the 2011/2012 award will be revised in respect of the loss of the 30 hour element but it will not be revised in respect of the new baby.

It may seem that as we are looking into entitlement, we should allow any entitlement the customer could possibly have had. However, this would mean that customers subject to a compliance intervention could be at an advantage over other customers. Applying the 1 month backdating on claims or charges of circumstances that increase the award across the board means all customers are treated the same and in accordance with the legislation.

Changes to income

Entitlement is based on annual income. As such, where you find that reported income is incorrect, you should incorporate the correct income in your amendments, irrespective of whether it increases or decreases entitlement.