20 Feb 2007 : Column 594W—continued

Life expectancy figures are calculated as three year rolling averages. The table below provides the period life expectancy at birth for men and women in (a) the UK, (b) the West Midlands government office region and (c) Coventry local authority district, in (i) 1996-98 and (ii) 2003-05 (the latest period available).

 Table 1: Period life expectancy at birth( 1) , UK, West Midlands government office region, Coventry local authority district, 1996-98 and 2003-05( 2,3) Years of life Male Female Year( 3) Life expectancy 95 per cent. confidence interval( 4) Life expectancy 95 per cent. confidence interval( 4) UK — — — 1996-98 74.5 — 79.6 — 2003-05 76.6 — 80.9 — West Midlands Government office region 1996-98 74.5 (74.4-74.6) 79.6 (79.5-79.7) 2003-05 76.2 (76.1-76.3) 80.8 (80.7-80.9) Coventry local authority district 1996-98 73.6 (73.2-74.0) 79.1 (78.7-79.4) 2003-05 75.4 (75.0-75.8) 80.6 (80.2-81.0) (1) Period life expectancy at birth is an estimate of the average number of years a newborn baby would survive if he or she experienced the area’s age-specific mortality rates for that time period throughout his or her life. The figure reflects mortality among those living in the area in each time period, rather than mortality among those born in each area. It is not therefore the number of years a baby born in the area in each time period could actually expect to live, both because the death rates of the area are likely to change in the future and because many of those born in the area will live elsewhere for at least some part of their lives. (2) Using Government office region and local authority boundaries as of 2006 for all the years shown. (3) Three year rolling averages, based on deaths registered in each year and mid-year population estimates. (4) Confidence intervals are a measure of the statistical precision of an estimate and show the range of uncertainty around the estimated figure. Calculations based on small numbers of events are often subject to random fluctuations. As a general rule, if the confidence interval around one figure overlaps with the interval around another, we cannot say with certainty that there is more than a chance difference between the two figures. The confidence interval for life expectancy for the UK as a whole is less than 0.1 years.

### Members: Correspondence

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the Tax Credit Office to reply to the fax from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West of 7 November 2006 with regard to his constituent Ms Katrina Anderson. [122102]

Dawn Primarolo: The Tax Credit Office wrote directly to the hon. Member's constituent on 8 November 2006. I have asked officials at TCO to retrieve their papers and send him a copy.

John Barrett: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the Tax Credit Office to respond to the faxes from the hon. Member for Edinburgh West of (a) 9 August 2006 and (b) 19 September 2006, with regard to his constituents Mr. Willie McDonald and Mrs. Freda McDonald. [122103]

Dawn Primarolo: The Tax Credit Office replied to the hon. Member's fax of 9 August 2006 on 30 August 2006 and furnished him with a copy of that reply in response to his subsequent communication, on 4 October 2006.

### Pensions

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the fiscal impact of people choosing to take alternatively secured pensions rather than traditional annuities. [120581]

Ed Balls: Alternatively secured pensions (ASPs) were introduced to meet the specific needs of certain religious groups that have a principled religious objection to the pooling of mortality risk through annuities. As explained in the partial regulatory impact assessment published at pre-Budget report (‘Tax Relief for Pensions - 2006 Pre-Budget Report Reforms’) the fiscal impact of introducing ASPs are part of the overall costs of pension simplification. Estimates of the overall Exchequer costs of pension simplification remain at £25 million for 2006-07, rising to £250 million in 2010-11.

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Widespread use of ASP would have a potential additional cost to the Exchequer due to deferral of tax charges where pensions are not used to provide an income in retirement.

### SCC Technology

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much has been spent on services from SCC Technology since 2005. [119416]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC has spent £58.337 million with SCC Technology since 2005.

### Self-employed: Eastbourne

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in Eastbourne were registered as self-employed in each of the last 10 years. [120556]

Dawn Primarolo: The number of self-employed taxpayers in the local authority of Eastbourne can be found in table 3.14 “Income and tax by borough and district or unitary authority” and the number of self-employed taxpayers in the parliamentary constituency of Eastbourne can be found in table 3.15 “Income and tax by Parliamentary Constituency” on the HM Revenue and Customs website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/income_distribution/menu-by-vear.htm#315. These tables are only available for 2003-04 and 2004-05.

### Tax Allowances: Pensions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimate is of the cost of all forms of tax relief on pension contributions for each year since 1996-97; what forecast he has made of such reliefs in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [120973]

Ed Balls: Estimates of the annual cost of tax relief on approved pension schemes are available in Table 7.9 on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs website at:

These estimates detail the relief given on contributions to personal and occupational pensions and the investment income of pension funds net of tax on existing private pensions in payment.

### Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) which private sector suppliers were used to deliver contact centre services for tax credit claimants in each year since December 2002; how many calls were made to these private sector suppliers; and if he will make a statement; [111313]

(2) how many of the calls to private sector suppliers delivering contact centre services for tax credit claimants were not recorded in each quarter since January 2003; and if he will make a statement. [111314]

Dawn Primarolo: Whenever HMRC uses private sector suppliers to deliver contact centre services, the calls concerned are generic and do not require access to HMRC computer systems or individual customer records.

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HMRC supplemented its internal contact centre capacity with the use of the following private sector suppliers to deliver generic tax credit services during 2003-04:

2003

MM Group Ltd

2004

VenturaUKLtd

BT plc

Between them these suppliers have handled around 4 million calls.

The number of calls handled by private sector suppliers which were not recorded, excluding calls to the freephone response line, was:

 Number January to March 2003 (1)113 April to June 2003 (1)386 July to September 2004 (1, 2)20 October to December 2004 (1, 2)112 (1) Volumes shown in thousands, rounded to nearest thousand. (2) Outbound calls only.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit overpayment cases were referred to the Parliamentary Ombudsman in each month since 1 April 2003. [118754]

Dawn Primarolo: The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, is an independent office-holder. She operates under the provisions of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 (as amended). The Parliamentary Ombudsman publishes information about the number of investigable complaints she has received in her annual report to Parliament. Her 2005-06 annual report, HC 1363, was published on 13 July 2006.

### Valuation Office

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings the Valuation Office Agency has had with (a) the Valuation and Lands Agency, (b) the Scottish Assessors’ Association and (c) the Republic of Ireland Valuation Office in the last 24 months. [120821]

Dawn Primarolo: To discuss common valuation practices in the light of evolving case law, the Valuation Office Agency met representatives from the Northern Ireland Valuation and Lands Agency, the Scottish Assessors’ Association and the Irish Valuation Office on 17 May, 8 November 2005, 8 May and 8 November 2006. The Valuation Office Agency also met representatives from the Scottish Assessors’ Association on 27 January 2007.

The Valuation Office Agency’s District Valuer Services met with the Northern Ireland Valuation and Lands Agency’s Client Services—their equivalent business stream—on 22 March 2006.

### Valuation Office: Databases

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which (a) Departments, (b) executive agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies have had access to Valuation Office Agency dwellinghouse coding data in the last five years. [120826]

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Dawn Primarolo: Access to Valuation Office Agency (VOA) attribute data is available to HM Revenue and Customs staff for purposes authorised by statute.

No access has been given to any other Department, Agency or NDPB. All data held by the Valuation Office Agency—as part of HM Revenue and Customs—are subject to the restrictions imposed by the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.

### Water Charges

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions the Valuation Office Agency has had with (a) Government Departments and (b) their agencies on reviewing the rateable values used to assess water rates for domestic properties in England and Wales. [120815]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has had no discussions with either Government Departments or their agencies on reviewing the 1973 list domestic rateable values used to determine water charges for many domestic properties. As domestic rating assessments have been abolished, valuation officers are no longer required or permitted to amend rateable values and there is no legislative mechanism by which an appeal can now be made against such a domestic rateable value.

### Welfare Tax Credits

Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the HM Revenue and Customs tax credit system allows a risk assessment of the claim to be made; what the average time taken was from claim to first payment in the latest period for which figures are available; and whether the time taken varies by risk category status. [119425]

Dawn Primarolo: All tax credit claims are subject to an automated risk assessment process which looks at the features of a claim against known risks. These risk rules work in combination to identify those claims that are high risk and require further consideration, with the highest risk cases looked at by a compliance team who may undertake a full compliance examination before an award is made. The time taken to make any inquiries varies with each individual case.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what arrangements are in place to resolve the technical difficulties affecting tax credit payments; and how long he expects it to take; [120879]

(2) if he will set a time limit for the resolution of the technical difficulties affecting tax credit payments beyond which automatic payments are made. [121067]

Dawn Primarolo: Technical problems which affect the tax credits IT system are investigated as they occur and prioritised according to their seriousness and the complexity of the corrective action required to fix them. Where the problems affect tax credit payments, HMRC issues manual payments until such time as system payments can be safely restored.

Mike Wood: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to HM Revenue and Customs was of dealing with inquiries relating to overpayment of tax credits in 2005-06. [121860]

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Dawn Primarolo: This information is not available.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on tax credit payments of the release of the most recent IT updates. [121863]

Dawn Primarolo: The latest IT software release in January was implemented without any problems.