UK tax chiefs have lost a court challenge over child tax credits for people granted refugee status.

The win, by a family represented by the Glasgow-based Govan Law Centre, is understood to be the first successful social security test case of its kind.

The couple secured refugee status in late 2019 – six years after first coming to the UK for protection.

Last January they applied for child tax credit backdated to their arrival in 2013, something refused by authorities. 

The Court of Session has now ruled that was wrong and told Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to consider a fresh claim.

The judgement comes during Refugee Festival Scotland.

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Claire Cochrane, solicitor for Ali and Saima Adnan, commented: "This is an important decision. It is the first in the UK to confirm that refugees who applied for asylum prior to 1 February 2019 have retained the important right to make a claim for a backdated payment of child tax credit.

"We would strongly encourage any refugees who applied for asylum before 1 February 2019 to seek advice to ensure that they receive all the payments they are entitled to."

Although tax credits were abolished and replaced with Universal Credit on 1 February 2019, the law provided that particular groups of claimants – including asylum seekers – had preserved rights if their claim was for a period that included 31 January 2019.

UK social security law preserved the right to claim child tax credits from the original date of a claim for asylum in the UK, so long as a claim was made within one month of the date of refugee status.

HMRC argued that no such claim could ever be made as it was no longer possible to claim tax credits since the roll out of Universal Credit. The Court of Session disagreed.

Cochrane, of Govanhill Law Centre – part of Govan Law Centre – said: "It is not known how many refugees have applied for a backdated payment of child tax credit after the introduction of Universal Credit, only to be told that it is no longer possible for HMRC to process their claim.

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"Govan Law Centre calls on the UK Government to review the past decisions made in cases such as these and ensure that all eligible claims for backdated tax credits are processed.

"This decision is on the back of a huge amount of work by staff at Govan Law Centre and we want to thank our clients, Mr and Mrs Adnan, for sticking with this case.

"It is very stressful to go through a long case like this. Govan Law Centre will continue to work to improve the lives of those who, for whatever reason, need to come to the UK."

HMRC has been contacted for comment.