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Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many finalised tax credit awards for (a) 2003-04 and (b) 2004-05 were re-opened under the notification procedure set out in section 19 of the Tax Credit Act 2002. 
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written statement of the Financial Secretary of 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 62WS, on tax credit administration, (1) how many tax credit cases were re-opened incorrectly in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05 and (c) 2005-06; 
Mr. Vara: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the written ministerial statement by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on 25 July 2007, Official Report, columns 62-63WS, on tax credit administration, when the administrative problem with tax credit awards was first identified; which ministers were informed about the problem; and when those ministers were informed. 
My July written statement identified that an estimated 160,000 2003-04 and 2004-05 cases were impacted by this issue. Separately HMRC estimated that they would need to write to 90,000 households about their 2005-06 awards.
Since then HMRC have done further work to refine these estimates. Although the total number affected has not changed, HMRC now estimate that as a result of this issue around 100,000 cases in 2003-04, 75,000 cases in 2004-05 and 75,000 cases in 2005-06 will need to be reviewed.
HMRC has started a planned programme of work to review the tax credit awards that may be affected. In all but a small minority of the cases HMRC will be able to correct the procedural error without any change to the payments already made. In an estimated 20,000 cases, HMRC will need to make a repayment. The cost of this is estimated to be £20 million. No family will see their award revised downwards as a result of these reviews.
While any administrative error is deeply regrettable, and must be addressed, the fact remains that tax credits are helping six million families including 10 million children, and have helped to lift 600,000 children out of poverty.