Tagged: Alan Cummings

HMRC agrees to write-off ex-miners’ tax bill

Officials  have agreed not to pursue dozens of ex-miners who had not paid enough tax, says a miners’ leader.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launched an investigation after Durham Miners’ Association raised concerns about the number of members who had been issued with demands for underpayment of tax.

Some members were told they owed as much as £2,000.

HMRC concluded that the underpayments had arisen because assumption had been made in relation to how much contribution-based Employment Support Allowance former miners had received.

The figures were too low which meant there was an underpayment of tax.

Alan Cummings, chairman of Durham Miners’ Association, said he held discussions with senior tax office staff regarding the underpayment and it was agreed that HMRC would not pursue the money owed in these cases.

Mr Cummings said the demands had come as a shock to former miners, many of whom were on low incomes and would have faced hardship through no fault of their own had they had to pay.

He added: “This has caused a lock of shock and concern among people who aren’t on much money.

“It has affected people who are often on particularly low incomes and maybe aren’t in the best of health.

 “On behalf of the association, I would personally like to thank HMRC for their help and assistance in resolving the matter.”

The former miner contacted Easington MP Grahame Morris asking him for help.

Mr Cummings said an article would be included in a forthcoming Durham Miners’ Newsletter requesting members to check that their weekly Employment Support Allowance payments matched the figures that HMRC are using.

The problem appeared to affect former miners who were in receipt of contribution-based employment support allowance and were also receiving a mineworkers’ pension.

Mr Cummings said in previous years tax was taken from the employment support allowance through the PAYE system without problems.

Any member who has already paid the tax underpayment demand should contact Mr Cummings at the area office with their details.

A spokesman for HMRC said they could not comment on individual cases.

Source –  Northern Echo,  07 Nov 2014

HMRC Mix-up leaves former miners owing hundreds to tax man

A miners’ leader has called for an investigation after miners were left owing hundreds of pounds in unpaid tax.

Alan Cummings, chairman of Durham Miners’ Association, said he had received more than a dozen calls in two days from worried ex-miners who had received PAYE calculations stating they owed between £300 and £900.

The problem appeared to affect former miners who were in receipt of contribution-based employment support allowance and were also receiving a mineworkers’ pension.

Mr Cummings said in previous years tax was taken from the employment support allowance through the PAYE system without problems.

However, he believed there had been an error which meant the system had not taken tax from ex-miners for the 2013/14 tax year.

For some reason something has gone badly wrong and the tax hasn’t been taken off,” he said.

We now have people who have received tax demands for several hundred pounds and they want to know why the system has failed.”

He added: “This has caused a lock of shock and concern among people who aren’t on much money.”

Mr Cummings said he was talking to HMRC to find out why the problem had occurred.

 He appealed for any ex-miners affected to get in touch, whether they were from the North-East or not, to establish the scale of the problem.

The former miner has contacted Easington MP Grahame Morris asking him for help.

This is affecting people who are often on particularly low incomes and maybe aren’t in the best of health – it beggars belief that this has occurred,” Mr Cummings added.

HMRC stressed that it sent out tax calculations rather than tax demands.

Any money owed could be paid interest free from April 2015 until March 2016, using the PAYE system in 12 chunks.

If people needed further time to pay, it could be done over two or three years.

A HMRC spokesman added: “We are unable to comment on individual taxpayers. Anyone who receives a calculation which they believe is incorrect should contact us and we will do all we can to help.”

Source –  Durham Times, 16 Oct 2014

Miners who ‘scabbed’ still get blanked in street

MINERS who broke the strike and “scabbed” can still expect to be blanked in the street 30 years on, according to a former union official.

Alan Cummings, 66-year-old former NUM lodge secretary in the ex-pit village of Easington Colliery, County Durham, explained: “People have long memories.

“There’s very few people talk to them and it split families. But we didn’t have a lot in this part.”

The strike held firm from March 1984 and the village pit which had 2,700 workers was lightly picketed. Then in August things changed.

A power loader named Paul Wilkinson from Bowburn, 10 miles away, was bussed in and hundreds of riot police made sure he got to work.

Mr Cummings, who still lives in a terraced house a stone’s throw from the former pit gates, said: “I have never seen as many police before in Easington.

“There’s only two ways into the village and it was completely blocked off. People couldn’t get in or out.

“After 6am there was vans and vans coming in. Pickets were called back from elsewhere and had to come across fields to get here. The atmosphere was really bad.”

Police and pickets fought through the day and serious disorder broke out when Coal Board property was smashed and cars wrecked.

Mr Cummings said the self-contained, isolated village had been law-abiding and needed little policing prior to the strike.

The treatment by officers – particularly those drafted in from South Wales and Lincolnshire – disgusted many locals, he said.

One striker received an out-of-court settlement of £5,000 for injuries he sustained in the protest, the ex-NUM official said. But it was a “hollow victory”.

“Miners’ wives and families in the street could not believe what went on – there was a sea-change in their attitude,” he said. “It’s been called a village under siege.”

The strike ended a little under a year after it began and the pit closed forever in 1993 – just short of 100 years since work began.

And Easington Colliery’s reliance on coal meant it was a disaster, Mr Cummings said.

“It’s been total devastation,” he said. “It’s my worst nightmare and I knew it was going to happen.”

Whereas the Germans planned pit closures in their coalfields, “here, they just wiped us out”.

The village had the second-highest percentage of colliery houses in the country and they were sold off to private landlords in the 1990s, bringing an influx of problem tenants and class A drugs.

Seemingly half the shops on Seaside Lane were shuttered and the working man’s club life, once so vibrant, was dying out.

Mr Cummings retained a passionate hate for Margaret Thatcher and did not care that the village’s celebration of her death last year upset some.

“What an epitaph she has in these mining communities: death, a lot of people have committed suicide, and no hope.

“All down to her, and some of her spawn that’s about now.”

But he also laid blame at the door of New Labour, which he said failed to make enough impact during its time in power.

Now those who have jobs work in call centres, for Railtrack, the Nissan plant at Sunderland or the Caterpillar plant in nearby Peterlee.

“But 99 per cent of them would come back to the pit if it was open,” he said.

Source – Shields Gazette,  03 Mar 2014

.