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Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the mid-year population estimates were in each metropolitan authority in Tyne and Wear in each year between 1999 and 2004; and what estimate he has made of the population of each authority in (a) 200607, (b) 200708 and (c) 200809 based on the estimates for (i) 1999 to 2003 and (ii) 2000 to 2004. 
|Newcastle Upon Tyne||271,000||267,600||266,200||266,000||266,600||269,500|
|Newcastle Upon Tyne||263,900||263,400||262,900||262,500|
To disclose Gateway Review reports would be likely to prejudice both the ability of reviewers to examine the effectiveness, efficiency and economy with which other Government Departments exercise their functions and also the formulation and development of Government policy.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many letters from members of the public were received by the tax credits department from April 2003 to April 2005; what the average response time was in each quarter; and if he will make a statement; 
Dawn Primarolo: Between June 2003 and April 2005, the Tax Credit Office (TCO) received around 1.4 million letters from members of the public or their representatives. Figures are not available before June 2003. TCO aims to deal with 80 per cent. of correspondence within 15 working days and 95 per cent. of correspondence within 40 working days. Indicative figures for 200405 suggest that TCO responded to around half of correspondence within 15 working days and almost three-quarters within 40 working days. Figures are not available for 200304 and indicative figures are not yet available for 200506.
Dawn Primarolo: A Gateway Review is conducted on a confidential basis and is not generally made public. To disclose Gateway Review reports would be likely to prejudice both the ability of reviewers to examine the effectiveness, efficiency and economy with which other Government Departments exercise their functions and also the formulation and development of Government policy.
Dawn Primarolo: There are more than 6 million families benefiting from tax credits at present. Each adult included in a tax credit award receives an award notice when the initial claim has been decided, each time a change of circumstance is reported, and another after the end of the year when their claim is renewed.
Child tax credit and working tax credit (CTC and WTC) were introduced in April 2003 replacing children's tax credit, working families' tax credit and disabled person's tax credit; however, (the former) Inland Revenue started issuing CTC and WTC award notices from February 2003. The number of award notices issued in each month since February 2003 is provided in the table.
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|(b) and (c) Month||Numbers of notices issued each month(15)|
|Number of calls|
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many TC 647 forms have been (a) requested, (b) printed and (c) sent to tax credit claimants giving details on how their tax credit claim has been worked out since the inception of tax credits. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 27 October 2005]: Between 3 March 2004 and 27 September 2005 around 370,000 TC647 forms were printed and issued to tax credit claimants. These forms are issued on request.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what measures have been put in place to compensate claimants where automatic recovery of a tax credit overpayment has been stopped, and the overpayment found to have been caused by official error. 
Dawn Primarolo: For details of the circumstances in which HM Revenue and Customs will make compensation payments, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Osborne) on 19 July 2005, Official Report, column 1698W.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 2 November 2005, Official Report, columns 105758W, on tax credits, what proportion of the families contacted returned their renewal forms before 30 September. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 8 November 2005]: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made around 341,000 outbound call attempts. Of those, around 81,000 resulted in taxpayer contact, this generated around 3,900 renewals at the time of calling. HMRC also estimate that a further 15,400 claimants subsequently rang back to renew as a direct result of the initial contact.
Dawn Primarolo: Tax credits are allocated at household, not individual, level. The whole circumstances of the household are considered against a set of rules and elements of entitlement are allocated accordingly. Each element of entitlement is designated as either child tax credit (CTC) or working tax credit (WTC) and a composite entitlement to CTC and WTC calculated.
Where a household contains two adults the claimants nominate which individual will receive payments for each tax credit. This can mean that one member of the household receives both credits or that they receive one credit each.
While individual payments are physically made to one person payments are treated as being made to the household. Members of the household are equally entitled to the payments and equally liable to repay any amount which is overpaid (joint and several liability).
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a claimant whose circumstances make him eligible for working tax credit and child tax credit is able to claim working tax credit only. 
Dawn Primarolo: The child and working tax credits are a single, seamless system of support for families with children and for low-paid people in work. In practice a claim for working tax credit is also a claim for child tax credit if a claimant is eligible for both. The reverse is also true.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit claimants had their awards processed using an emergency national insurance number in (a) 200304 and (b) 200405; what the figures are for 200506; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total amount outstanding in backdated tax credits that have not yet been paid where a claim has been processed but a system error has delayed the generation of an award of tax credits was in (a) 200304 and (b) 200405; and how much is outstanding in 200506 to date. 
Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 24 November 2005]: The information is not available. Where payments cannot be made via the system they can be paid manually. I refer the hon. gentleman to the reply I gave him on 15 November 2004, Official Report, column 1212W.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written statement of 26 May 2005, Official Report, columns 2223WS, on tax credit overpayments, with how many voluntary sector bodies discussions have been held on providing more active support and advice for families claiming tax credits; and on what dates. 
Dawn Primarolo: I refer to the minutes of evidence taken before the Treasury Sub-Committee on Wednesday 26 October 2005. I informed Members that HMRC is discussing with the Citizens Advice Bureau how they can best work together with a view to developing pilots to support claimants better, including offering face-to-face contact with the most vulnerable groups.
The Department is also working with the HMRC Tax Credits Consultation Group, which includes representatives from the voluntary sector and other interested parties, to speed up improvement in key areas. In addition to the group's regular meetings, a number of working parties have been set up. Working parties, made up of representatives and officials, are considering a range of issues such as a review of Code of Practice 26, the Helpline, HMRC tax credit website and complaints and redress.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will establish a system of tax credits similar to that used in the United States to encourage employers to help their staff to improve their level of skills; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government recognise that improving the skills of the work force plays an important part in increasing productivity and reducing social exclusion. The financial assistance available to
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encourage employers and learners to improve their skills is set out the Government's Skills Strategy and recent White Paper, Skills: Getting on in business and getting on in work.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in how many cases in Scotland where a tax credit has been processed there was a delay in the computer system generating an award of child or working tax credit in (a) 200304 and (b) 200405; and how many such cases there have been in 200506. 
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