Tax credits claimants in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are being reminded that they must let HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) know within one month of their childcare costs falling or ending.
Deliberately failing to let HMRC know when renewing a claim could constitute criminal fraud and result in prosecution.
As part of a wider government crackdown on error and fraud in benefits and credits, letters will start to land on doorsteps this week asking claimants to contact HMRC if their childcare costs have changed, for example, because their child has started school.
Because tax credits are flexible, the amount claimants receive changes as their circumstances alter.
Changes to childcare that claimants need to tell HMRC about include:
- Average childcare costs end or go down by £10 a week or more.
- Their childcare provider stops being approved or registered.
- They start getting childcare vouchers from an employer.
- They start getting early learning or nursery education support.
HMRC said some 345,000 or 4.5% of all tax credit awards in 2008/09 had errors relating to childcare. The potential size of this loss to the Exchequer, it said, is £380 million.