A Skipton man has blamed a mix up at the Government's taxation office for plunging him into financial troubles and putting his home in jeopardy.

Brendan Boylan moved in with partner Jackie Smith and her four children aged 19, 15, 12 and seven at her housing association-owned home on Cawder Road in October and they filled in fresh forms for child tax credit.

A month later they received a letter to say they were entitled to £2,351.57 from the previous July to April 5.

But 41-year-old Mr Boylan told the Herald that the weekly payments stopped shortly before Christmas.

After the festive period he went to the Skipton office to try to sort out the problem and was given manual payments.

But, at the end of January, both he and his partner received separate letters saying they were no longer entitled to tax credits.

Now, they have received a letter telling them they have been overpaid by £1,369.52 and this has to be paid back by the middle of March.

To make matters worse Mr Boylan, a tipper driver, is unable to work after suffering a slipped disc and Mrs Smith has a disability which makes it impossible for her to get a job.

He said they had tried on numerous occasions to get to the bottom of the problem, speaking to staff at several Inland Revenue offices including Bradford, Belfast, Edinburgh and Preston. They have also been to the Skipton tax office.

He added that they had run up large phone bills ringing the 0845 numbers on the letters from Inland Revenue.

"We have been trying to do it the right way and we have been patient," he said.

Mr Boylan claimed staff had even told him they had been lost in the system.

Since November the only money coming into the house has been Mr Boylan's sick pay of £136 a week and board from Mrs Smith's oldest son.

He said the mix-up with the tax had left the family in dire straits financially and meant they could not afford to pay their rent to Craven Housing.

They now have received a court summons and risk losing the roof over their heads.

He said they were reliant on the tax credits because, while he could pay the rent with his sick pay, that would leave them nothing to live off.

He told the Herald it had caused a great strain on the family as other bills were piling up and the electricity had been cut off.

"We have been trying to sort it out for months. The frustrating thing is they are in the wrong, they have admitted it," he said.

Mr Boylan said they had been to the Skipton office and hadcontacted the Citizens' Advice Bureau. They are so desperate for help that they have made an appointment to see MP David Curry.

An HM Revenue and Customs spokeswoman said: "We are sorry to hear of the problems that Mr Boylan and Ms Smith have experienced.

"We are unable to comment on their individual case for reasons

of confidentiality but we would urge them or any of our tax credits

customers with queries to contact our Tax Credit Helpline direct on 0845 300 3900.

"Our Code of Practice 26 sets out HMRC's approach to handling overpayments and the circumstances in which overpayments may not be recovered.

"We make every effort to minimise mistakes but if or when they occur we endeavour to sort things out as quickly as possible.

"The purpose of the new tax credits is to make work pay, reduce child poverty and increase the proportion of lone parents in employment.

"There are a number of reasons why an overpayment can arise. When the overpayment is the result of our mistake and the claimant could reasonably have thought that the award was right, then we can and do, write it off."