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How many lone parents are receiving tax credits?

Briefing note
When data on child poverty in 2003/04 were released, the fall in child poverty since 2002/03 was smaller than had been expected. Brewer et al. (2005) identified several reasons that might explain this, one of which was that the Family Resources Survey (FRS) ֠the data-set from which the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) income series is currently derived ֠may have been under-recording the number of families receiving tax credits (or the equivalent level of support in out-of-work benefits) and therefore underestimating the incomes of some low-income families with children.

Brewer et al. (2006), who analyse what happened to child poverty between 1998/99 and 2004/05, show that estimates of spending on tax credits received by families with children based on the FRS have been getting increasingly inaccurate over time compared with estimates made by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), with around õ billion of spending on tax credits received by families with children going unrecorded by the FRS in 2004/05.

However, a detailed comparison of estimates of the number of families with children receiving tax credits (or equivalent in out-of-work benefits) based on the FRS with the equivalent estimates based on the government's administrative data is confounded by the fact that HMRC estimates that the government is paying the child tax credit and the equivalent in out-of-work benefits to more lone parents than official statistics suggest live in the UK.

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Press release
The Government thinks it is paying out tax credits or out-of-work benefits to around 200,000 more lone parents than the Office for National Statistics estimate live in the UK, according to an analysis of official statistics by researchers at the IFS.