What information from my economic records do you want and why?

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) records

The DWP keeps records of everybody’s benefit claims and any periods people spend on employment programmes.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) records

HMRC keep records of everybody’s employment, earnings, tax credits and occupational pensions (since 1998) and National Insurance Contributions since the early 1970s.

Why is this information useful?

For many years we have been collecting information on your economic circumstances. The information you have provided has allowed researchers to examine a whole range of issues like the financial benefits of education and training, as well as the importance of early childhood circumstances on adult income and social mobility (the extent to which people’s social class or economic status changes between childhood and adulthood).

Over the years, collecting information about sources of income has become increasingly complex, particularly since the widespread introduction of in work benefits and tax credits and changes in eligibility to different benefits and welfare to work programs.

It is very difficult to collect sufficiently detailed information about tax credits and benefits, but these are increasingly a very important source of income for a lot of families – particularly since the economic downturn.

We are therefore asking for your permission to gain access to the economic administrative data held about you by HMRC and DWP. This includes information about any tax credits that you receive, your National Insurance contributions (critical to working out pension entitlement), your earnings (which are used to work out entitlement to things like Child Benefit, Student grants and loans for your children and child tax credits), benefits that you receive as well as information about participation in DWP programmes, such as the New Deal.

This would allow researchers to look at important questions that have previously not been tackled in these troubled economic times including:

– How has the introduction of in-work tax credits impacted on adult work decisions and child poverty?

– What are the lifetime returns to education and training for people from different family backgrounds? How variable are these estimated returns?

– Have government welfare to work programs over the last 15 years worked and if so for whom?