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Dr. Cable: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was received in VAT receipts in each financial year between 1997-98 and 2005-06; and what the estimated loss of revenue from VAT fraud was in each of those years. 
Estimates for the level of losses due to VAT fraud are not available. However, estimates of the VAT gap, which includes losses due to fraud, are available in the series of papers, 'Measuring and Tackling Indirect Tax Losses', published in November 2002 and December of 2003-05. Copies of these papers can be obtained from the House Library.
(i) that the Vulnerable Groups Regulations should be extended to increase eligibility, with measures put in place to increase take-up;
(ii) a local scale pilot scheme should be set up to target water affordability assistance to lower income households;
(iii) and that companies, Government and Ofwat should investigate the likely distributional consequences of costs for water consumers and the case for suitable tariff changes.
The Vulnerable Groups Regulations are intended to offer targeted protection to customers with particularly low incomes, who have water meters and who use large amounts of water for essential purposes. This includes families with three or more children, and people with specified medical conditions who are on income-related benefits. Following a review and consultation, the criteria for eligibility were amended from 1 April 2005. The criteria now include a more inclusive list of qualifying medical conditions and families with three or more children in full time education under the age of
19. In July, DEFRA held a workshop, attended by water companies and other interested stakeholders, to promote good practice in administrating the tariff.
A pilot study is currently under way in the South West which is looking at the combined impacts of several measures on water affordability, including
benefit entitlement checks, meter installation and water efficiency measures. We expect the results of the pilot study in summer 2007.