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13 Jun 2007 : Column 1124W—continued

Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made in introducing caps to the size of repayments following the overpayment of tax credits by HM Revenue and Customs. [138797]

Mr. Timms: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Paymaster General’s responses to questions 20 and 21 when she gave oral evidence to the Treasury Sub-Committee on 14 March.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the case for returning to a system of fixed tax credit awards since January 2006; [141496]

(2) what his estimate is of the revenue consequences for the Exchequer of moving to a system of six monthly fixed awards for tax credits; and if he will make a statement. [141497]

Mr. Timms: As the 2005 pre-Budget report stated, the Government continue to listen to the case for a system of fixed awards, but believe on balance that it is preferable to maintain the current system that flexibly responds to changing circumstances.

The Government have made no estimate of the revenue consequences of moving to a system of six monthly fixed awards for tax credits. A system where payments were fixed, based on past information, would mean that families could not benefit from the flexibility to give extra support when they need it most. Statistics published on 22( )May 2007 show that between 2004-05
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and 2005-06 720,000 families experienced a fall in their income, and benefited from extra support through tax credits.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his latest estimates are of tax credits (a) overpayments and (b) fraud and error for each year from 2003-04 to 2007-08; how much is estimated in each year to be (i) uncollectable and written off, (ii) unlikely to be collected but not yet written off, (iii) collected and (iv) likely to be collected; and if he will make a statement. [141522]

Mr. Timms: Information on the value of overpayments on 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 tax credits awards are shown in the published statistics on finalised awards for those years (supplements on payments). They are available on the HMRC website at:

Information on error and fraud in 2003-04 tax credits awards is available at:

Information on the values of recoveries, remissions and write-offs made up to 5 April 2006, and the provision for doubtful debt, is shown in notes 3.3 and 8.2 of the Trust Statement to the HM Revenue and Customs 2005-06 Accounts. This is available at:

Welfare Tax Credits: Appeals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many written (a) appeals and (b) complaints there were in relation to tax credits for each (i) month, (ii) quarter and (iii) year from April 2003 to May 2007; and if he will make a statement. [141470]

Mr. Timms: For information about the number of appeals relating to tax credits, up to and including October 2006, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that the Paymaster General gave the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1740W.

Details for the period November 2006 to May 2007 were:

Month Number of appeals (around)

2006

November

880

December

650

2007

January

790

February

810

March

830

April

700

May

610


For information about the number of complaints in relation to tax credits up to and including 2004-05, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that the Paymaster General gave my right hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) on 15 June
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2005, Official Report, columns 398-399W. Information for 2005-06 and 2006-07 was published in the HM Revenue and Customs departmental report in May 2007 which is available on the HMRC internet site at:

The number of complaints received in each month in 2005-06 and 2006-07 was around:

Month Number of complainants (around)

2005

April

5,650

May

4,400

June

5,550

July

5,900

August

5,400

September

5,400

October

5,650

November

5,700

December

4,150

2006

January

4,850

February

5,100

March

4,900

April

3,900

May

4,350

June

5,250

July

4,950

August

5,100

September

4,400

October

4,800

November

5,250

December

3,650

2007

January

4,450

February

4,300

March

4,100

April

3,250

May

4,000


Welfare Tax Credits: Fraud

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what date he plans to release the latest estimates of tax credit fraud and error in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05 and (c) 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. [141490]

Mr. Timms: The HMRC publication “Child and Working Tax Credits. Error and Fraud Statistics 2003-04” is available on the HMRC website at:

For information on Child and Working Tax Credit Fraud and Error Statistics in 2004-05 I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 585W.

No release date has been set as yet for the publication of the 2005-06 fraud and error statistics.


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Welfare Tax Credits: IT

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the quality of performance of the tax credits IT systems from January 2006 to May 2007; and if he will make a statement. [141517]

Mr. Timms: The performance of the tax credits IT system is continually monitored and is proving to be stable. In 2006 and 2007 HMRC have exceeded their system availability targets of 99.37 per cent. and 99.43 per cent. respectively.

Written Questions

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to answer Question 131611, on HM Revenue and Customs, tabled by the hon. Member for Taunton on 29 March 2007. [141214]

John Healey: The Treasury regrets that the hon. Member’s question has not yet been answered and hopes to be able to do so shortly.

Students: Loans

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the interest accrued by the Student Loans Company (SLC) money paid by former students prior to it being passed onto the SLC; and if he will make a statement. [141478]

Bill Rammell: I have been asked to reply.

Student loans repayments are not transferred to the Student Loans Company. They reduce the net assets, representing outstanding loans, on the Department for Education and Skills balance sheet. It is only information about repayments made by individual borrowers that is passed to the Company to allow it to issue annual statements. Once that information is received by the Company, repayments are attributed to each month of the tax year in which they were made by the borrower and monthly interest is calculated accordingly. This ensures that even if there is a delay in repayment details reaching the Company, the borrower does not pay any additional interest. No borrower pays too much interest as a result of the time lag in updating their account and nor does the Department or the SLC gain any additional income from the interest paid.

Justice

David Kelly

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice which persons from the Department of Constitutional Affairs attended the resumed inquest into the death of Dr. David Kelly on 14 August 2003. [141347]

Ms Harman: No-one from the Department for Constitutional Affairs attended the resumed inquest into the death of Dr. David Kelly.


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Departments: Carbon Emissions

Lynne Jones: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what methodology is used by her Department to account for its carbon emissions. [140786]

Vera Baird: The former DCA estate uses an electronic energy monitoring system that calculates the total energy consumption based upon energy invoices. The result is submitted yearly to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) which calculates the annual carbon emissions. The result is published in the annual Sustainable Development in Government (SDiG) report.

Public sector prisons are the responsibility of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Energy consumption is reported to the Prison Service Energy Manager on a monthly basis and carbon emissions are calculated using a standard conversion factor. The monthly consumption is adjusted to take account of variations in the prison population and weather. Annual consumption figures are reported to BRE for inclusion in the annual SDiG report.

The Probation Service calculated their carbon emission through collecting the energy bills for electricity, gas and oil and collating the data for the whole Home Office. The data are submitted to BRE to be weather corrected, converted into carbon and sent to the Sustainable Development Commission for inclusion in the SDiG report.

The privately operated prisons and the secure training centres were delivered under the private finance initiative and have no official methodology.

Departments: Property

Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what the cost of leasing buildings and office space for (a) her Department and its predecessor and (b) its agencies was in each of the last five years. [139472]

Ms Harman: The full running costs of all office space could be obtained but only at a disproportionate cost. However I am able to provide the cost incurred by my Department and its executive agencies on rent over the past five years. These are as follows:

(a) The Department
£

2002-03

6,271,931

2003-04

7,027,431

2004-05

7,027,431

2005-06

21,375,684

2006-07

23, 778,951


(b) Executive agencies
£

2002-03

24,023,000

2003-04

28,831,000

2004-05

31,178,000

2005-06

28,547,000

2006-07

66,690,352


13 Jun 2007 : Column 1129W

The Home Office is reporting with regard to MOJ properties transferring from the Home Office as part of Machinery of Government changes.


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