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Tax Mixing

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies are known to the Inland Revenue as having offshore mixer companies. [120289]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 2 May 2000]: The number of groups using offshore companies to mix high and low taxed income varies year to year depending on the level of their UK and foreign profits, the need to pay dividends to their shareholders and their profit repatriation policies.

10 May 2000 : Column: 423W

Missing National Insurance Numbers

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many new national insurance numbers sent out have gone missing since January 1999; what action has been taken to investigate missing national insurance numbers; and how many missing national insurance numbers have been traced to asylum seekers. [121057]

Dawn Primarolo: Working with the DSS we have in place a substantial programme of work involving continual routine activities and new projects, which between them aim to keep the risk and incidence of NINO abuse to the minimum.

This work will include rolling out the lessons from a pilot in Balham aimed at securing the gateway to obtaining a NINO.

In addition, we are also working with DSS to look at the way in which we manage accounts which might present risk.


Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many calls have been received by (a) the Working Families Tax Credit helpline and (b) the Disabled Person's Tax Credit helpline, in each month since January 1999; and what the salary levels are for those who work on each helpline. [121058]

Dawn Primarolo: The following table shows calls handled by the helplines. For Great Britain, they cover calls about Family Credit (FC) and Disability Working Allowance (DWA), as well as Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) and Disabled Person's Tax Credit (DPTC). For Northern Ireland, the helplines were brought into operation for WFTC and DPTC in September 1999. No counts of earlier calls about FC or DWA are available for Northern Ireland.

The table also shows calls handled by the response line, which was open from September 1999 to January 2000, and again in April 2000. For months up to January 2000, these calls were handled by the private contractors engaged, or by recorded voice. (All but 10,000 of these calls were about WFTC.) For April 2000 the figure is of calls handled by recorded voice; no private contractors were engaged.

MonthFamily Credit/ Working Families Tax CreditDisability Working Allowance/Disabled Person's Tax CreditResponse line
January 1999(6)256,9009,000--
February 1999(6)259,0008,400--
March 1999(6)293,9009,900--
April 1999(6)251,9008,700--
May 1999(6)239,7007,600--
June 1999(6)199,6008,500--
July 1999(6)260,2007,600--
August 1999(6)284,1006,900--
September 1999(6)448,70011,600316,800
October 1999449,30014,300322,700
November 1999384,90013,200141,500
December 1999242,4009,20042,900
January 2000406,80014,30015,400
February 2000387,40014,600--
March 2000502,80018,300--
April 2000471,40016,30040,700

(6) Excludes Northern Ireland before 7 September 1999. For October 1999, Northern Ireland accounted for about 4 per cent. of the total

10 May 2000 : Column: 424W

The high figure for March 2000 is explained by the particularly large number of awards approaching their renewal dates in that month.

The helpline operators are currently paid at annual rates of between £12,110 and £18,666.

Budget (Asset Sales)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his oral statement of 21 March 2000, Official Report, column 858, on the Budget, if he will list projections of aggregate receipts from asset sales by Department in (a) 1999-2000, (b) 2000-01 and (c) 2001-02. [120798]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 4 May 2000]: The following sets out the estimated outturn receipts from sale of assets by Departments for 1999-2000. Aggregate receipts from asset sales of £1 billion are projected for both 2000-01 and 2001-02. These represent plans and are not broken down by Department.

Department£ million
Education and Employment0.6
Department of Health250.2
Home Office12.3
Legal Departments8.2
Foreign and Commonwealth Office32.5
International Development0.02
Trade and Industry8.7
Agriculture, Fisheries and Food18.5
Culture, Media and Sport1.8
Social Security1.9
Northern Ireland91.3
Chancellor's Departments60.1
Cabinet Office4.4

Benefits (Children)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the average percentage increase in real benefit unit net income between 1997-98 and 2000-01 of the 1.2 million children that his policies have lifted out of poverty. [121287]

Dawn Primarolo: Collating this information requires complex technical modelling. I will write to the hon. Member with the relevant information as soon as possible, placing a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

10 May 2000 : Column: 425W

Double Taxation Relief

Mr. Portillo: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he has altered his projections for the revenue yield from changes to double taxation relief and controlled foreign companies following representations from business since the Budget. [121063]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 5 May 2000]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 19 April 2000, Official Report, columns 577-78W. The full year yield is not affected by the changes announced by the Inland Revenue Press Release 92/00 on 3 May 2000.

Working Families Tax Credit

Mr. Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the value of error by (a) officials and (b) claimants in respect of the working families tax credit in the last three years for which figures are available. [117035]

Dawn Primarolo: The overall value of known WFTC recoverable overpayments resulting from mistakes made by WFTC applicants for the period 1 October 1999 to 31 March 2000 is £93k. The overall value of known Family Credit recoverable overpayments resulting from mistakes made by Family Credit applicants for the corresponding period 1October 1998 to 31 March 1999 is £1.8 million.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the costs to business will be of administering the working families tax credit from April 2000 to 31 March 2003. [121072]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 5 May 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the regulatory impact assessment which was published and placed in the House Library in December 1999.

UK Reserves

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the United Kingdom's reserves have been reduced in value since the decision in July 1999 to sell gold and purchase euros, due to the fall in the value of that currency; and if he will make a statement. [121200]

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the net change in the value of the United Kingdom's reserves as a result of his decision to sell gold and buy euros. [121452]

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the financial consequences to date of exchanging UK gold bullion reserves for Euros. [121498]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The UK's programme of gold sales were part of a prudent medium term programme to restructure the reserves which aims to achieve a better balance in the Government's portfolio. There will be times when currencies depreciate and times when they appreciate. Having a diversified portfolio avoids being too exposed to any one asset.

10 May 2000 : Column: 426W

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the current Bank of England reserves of euros; and how many euros have been purchased by the Bank of England since 1 January. [121268]

Mr. Gill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total quantity of reserves held in (a) gold and (b) euros on 31 March 1999 and 31 March 2000. [121692]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Table 2 of the Quarterly Report on UK Official Holdings of Foreign Currency and Gold for the period October to December 1999, published on 2 March 2000, provides a breakdown of the size and composition of the United Kingdom's reserve holdings, including a currency breakdown. The Quarterly Report for the period January to March 2000 will be published on 2 June.

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