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Mr. Plaskitt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is discussing with the Office for National Statistics changes to the 2011 Census forms which would recognise Sikhs as an ethnic group. 
The National Statistician and Registrar General for England and Wales has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking about changes to the 2011 Census forms which would recognise Sikhs as an ethnic group. I am replying in his absence. (200041)
In planning for a census in 2011, arrangements will be put in place for consultation with a wide range of users on the form and content of the questions to be included, using similar criteria that were adopted in designing the 2001 Census form. The criteria used for 2001 were:
We recognise that ethnicity is an ever-changing concept and we want to reflect the contemporary nature of British society. However, comparability over time remains a very important issue. Because ethnicity is multifaceted, the current National Statistics practice is to collect as much information as possible on associated factors. For example, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) has questions on national identity, ethnic group, religious affiliation, country of birth, and nationality.
It is also our view that we should test questions for the 2011 Census (when they are determined) before they are asked in the Census itself. In the meantime National Statistics guidelines on the measurement and collection of ethnicity data were published on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website earlier this year.
The ethnicity question will be reviewed as part of the general preparations for the 2011 Census. A paper entitled 'Strategic issues surrounding the 2011 Census questionnaire Content' was presented to the Census Advisory Groups earlier this month. ONS will begin its formal external user consultation on 2011 Census topics with the production of a consultation document, which will be published in spring 2005. This will be available via the ONS website and circulated to key users through the formal Census Advisory Groups mechanism. This document will set out ONS'
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he plans to take to assist those families who are having to repay money to the Inland Revenue as a result of tax credit overpayments caused by administrative failures. 
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he plans to take to simplify the application (a) process and (b) forms for those families wishing to apply for the (i) working tax credit and (ii) child tax credit. 
Dawn Primarolo: Claimants have to complete a claim form only once to get into the tax credits system. Thereafter, when they renew their claims each year, there are only two pages of a renewals form that need to be completed and returned. There is a straightforward step-by-step guide in every claim and renewals pack, as well as detailed guidance notes.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information he is making available about the process for repayment to families who are having to repay money to the Inland Revenue as a result of tax credit overpayments caused by administrative failures. 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the number of tax credit overpayments for 200304; how many such overpayments have been accepted as the fault of the Inland Revenue; and how many such overpayments will be written off. 
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of what caused the Inland Revenue error that led to the overpayment of tax credit payments; and what action he is taking to ensure that such an error will not occur again in the future. 
Dawn Primarolo: Details are in the Inland Revenue's Annual Report for 200304, published on 21 October 2004, at page 42 and at page 104 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General attached to it.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of time is that the Inland Revenue is taking to inform individual families that have received tax credit overpayments; and what period of notice is given before repayments of overpayments are requested. 
Dawn Primarolo: Overpayments are established after the end of the tax year when an award has been finalised. When awards are finalised, claimants receive a final award notice setting out any overpayment that has arisen. Where there is a continuing entitlement to tax credits, overpayments are generally collected from future awards. But where that is not possible, the amount overpaid may be collected directly from the claimant. Information on the average length of time taken from identification of an overpayment and notifying the claimant of it is not available.
The approach the Revenue takes to overpayments is contained in their Code of Practice 26 'What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?'(a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
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