DARLINGTON MP Alan Milburn has written to 5,000 parents in his constituency advising them of the changes that have been made to the new Child Tax Credits.

The Secretary of State for Health has sent an individual letter to the parents of each child at the 43 infant, junior and secondary schools.

Mr Milburn wants families with children to understand the benefits of the new system, which comes into force in April this year. The changes are designed to bring together all income-related payments for recipients and will be paid directly to the carer, usually the mother.

He said: "We estimate that 85 per cent of all families with children may be entitled to receive the Child Tax Credit, with families on low incomes getting higher payments.

"These changes will provide a simpler and more streamlined system to support families and to make work pay."