Previous Section Index Home Page

23 Oct 2007 : Column 254W—continued


Tax Allowances: Capital Investment

Mr. Cox: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many responses he has received to the consultation on the abolition of industrial buildings allowance which (a) support and (b) oppose the abolition; and if he will make a statement. [159903]

Jane Kennedy: The Government are not consulting on the phased withdrawal of the industrial buildings allowance from 2008. It is not the Government's policy to consult on changes to rates of tax or the withdrawal of allowances.

Taxation: Imports

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the figure of £145 for the value of goods that can be imported into the UK from outside the EU without paying tax was reached; when this figure was last revised; if he will make it his policy to index that figure in line with inflation; and if he will make a statement. [160083]

Jane Kennedy: The value of goods that can be imported into EU countries (including the UK) from outside the EU, without paying tax is stated in the directive on the harmonisation of provisions set out by law, regulation or administrative action relating to exemption from turnover tax and excise duty on imports in international travel (directive 69/169/EEC).

When directive 69/169/EEC was first agreed in 1969, the allowance was set at €45 (£36). In 1994, the directive was amended to increase the allowance to €175 (£136). The sterling conversion was then revalorised from £136 to £145 in 1995 to reflect exchange rate fluctuations. Since then the allowance has not been revised.

Following the announcement at Budget 2005 that the Government would be seeking increases in travellers’ allowances, the European Commission issued a proposal to increase the duty-free limit on goods other than alcohol and tobacco. EU Finance Ministers reached agreement in November 2006 to increase this limit to €430 (£290) for air and sea travellers and €300 (£200) for travellers by land. It was also agreed that this limit would be reviewed every four years.

The new allowances will be introduced in the UK once the relevant European legislation has been formally amended. The Government are pressing the European Commission to bring forward the finalised legislation, so that travellers will be able to benefit from the higher limits.

Unpaid Work

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what estimate he has made of the amount of unpaid work undertaken in the economy in each of the last five years, broken down by region; [159070]

(2) what estimate he has made of the impact of unpaid work undertaken on (a) the economy and (b) public expenditure; and if he will make a statement. [159071]

Angela Eagle: It is not possible to provide reliable estimates on the amount of unpaid work undertaken in the economy.

VAT: Registration

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of VAT registration applications have been processed within the target time in 2007-08. [153424]


23 Oct 2007 : Column 255W

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 8 October 2007]: The number and proportion of VAT registration applications processed within the target time in 2007-08 is;

2007 Number within 14 days Proportion (percentage) within 14 days

January

4,671

21

February

4,506

20

March

4,022

19

April

1,493

7

May

1,883

7.5

June

3,174

17

July

3,884

13


HMRC recognise that in recent months there have been some unacceptable delays for genuine businesses. Several factors have contributed to this, including an increase in the threat of fraud, an increase in the number of applications, and both resource and IT pressures. However, HMRC have put improvement measures in place and expect that a real upturn will be visible later this year.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average processing time was for VAT registration applications for each of the VAT registration units in the latest period for which figures are available. [153425]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 8 October 2007]: The average processing time for VAT applications for each of the VAT registration sites at 31 July 2007 was;

Registration site Average time taken (in days)

Wolverhampton

32

Grimsby

38

Newry

52

Carmarthen

43


HMRC has taken steps to address the imbalance in processing times across sites and is transferring work between locations to overcome this. Since 1 October 2007, all new applications have also been handled at Wolverhampton and the relatively faster handling times there should have a significant impact on the overall average time taken.

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 23 July 2007, Official Report, columns 665-66W, on VAT: registration, how many and what proportion of VAT registration applications were processed within 15 working days in 2006-07. [154438]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 8 October 2007]: The number and proportion of VAT registration application processed within 15 working days in 2006-07 was;

2006-07 Number/percentage

Number processed within 15 working days

188,216

Percentage processed within 15 working days

66


23 Oct 2007 : Column 256W

HMRC recognise that in recent months there have been some unacceptable delays for genuine businesses. Several factors have contributed to this, including an increase in the threat of fraud, an increase in the numbers of applications, and both resource and IT pressures. However, HMRC have put improvement measures in place and expect that a real upturn will be visible later this year.

Stephen Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many applications for VAT registration were processed within (a) 14, (b) 30, (c) 60, (d) 90 and (e) more than 90 days after their submission to HM Revenue and Customs in the 12 month period ending 31 March. [154440]

Jane Kennedy: Revenue and Customs do not separately record the number of VAT registration applications processed within 90 or more days after their submission. The number processed within (a) 14, (b) 30 and (c) 60 days after their submission for the financial year ending 31 March 2007 are as follows;

Applications processed within Total number of applications

14 days

77,568

30 days

242,474

60 days

281,690


HMRC recognise that in recent months there have been some unacceptable delays for genuine businesses. Several factors have contributed to this, including an increase in the threat of fraud, an increase in the numbers of applications, and both resource and IT pressures. However, HMRC have put improvement measures in place and expect that a real upturn will be visible later this year.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reasons are for the time taken to provide new businesses with a VAT registration number; what the performance against the eight week target period (a) has been in the last period for which figures are available and (b) is expected to be over the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [158996]

Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) receive over 285,000 VAT registration applications each year and have a target of clearing complete and low risk applications within 14 days following receipt. The Government recognise that, over recent months, HMRC have fallen short of this target.

Several factors have contributed to the increased processing times. VAT registration is the entry point to serious frauds such as Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud, which reduced VAT receipts by an estimated £2 billion to £3 billion in 2005-06 and represents a very serious and sustained attack by organised criminal networks on the UK's VAT system. HMRC has taken steps to prevent such abuse of the VAT system, including a range of pre-registration checks, which last year weeded out over 7,000 fraudulent applications.

Earlier this year HMRC also saw a peak in the number of VAT registration applications as some businesses tried to circumvent certain anti-avoidance measures introduced in Budget 2007. As a consequence
23 Oct 2007 : Column 257W
the operational pressures on HMRC have intensified and work continues to manage the response to this pressure.

HMRC have a 14-day target for clearing complete and low risk applications rather than an eight-week target period. For 2007-08 the performance against that target is as follows:

Month (2007) Number within 14 days Proportion (percentage) within 14 days

April

1,493

7

May

1,883

7.5

June

3,174

17

July

3,884

13

August

3,997

14.4

September

5,686

19.75


HMRC has put in place a number of specific measures designed to improve registration processing times. It has made immediate improvements to speed up the initial vetting of applications, and is targeting its risk checks more closely on the highest risk applications, so as to minimise disruption to legitimate applications. Additional processing staff have been recruited, more of the existing staff are now dealing with VAT registration work and IT challenges have been addressed with improvements planned over coming months.

HMRC anticipate that these steps will provide significant additional processing capacity. However the lead-time for some changes, including training of new staff, means that significant improvement is not expected until later in the year. HMRC recognises that performance needs to continue to improve and will continue to work hard to reduce VAT registration delay.

Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Todd: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on progress in the review of tax credit awards for 2003-04 and 2004-05 affected by HM Revenue and Customs procedural errors. [160140]

Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on Thursday 18 October, Official Report, column 1281W.

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many claimants had their tax credits overpaid by (a) under £1,000, (b) £1,000 to £1,999, (c) £2,000 to £2,999, (d) £3,000 to £3,999, (e) £4,000 to £4,999, (f) £5,000 to £5,999, (g) £6,000 to £6,999, (h) £7,000 to £7,999, (i) £8,000 to £8,999, (j) £9,000 to £9,999 and (k) over £10,000 in the financial year (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05, (iii) 2005-06 and (iv) 2006-07. [160364]

Jane Kennedy: Information on the number of awards with an over or under payment of tax credits in 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06, by size of over or under payment, is produced in Table 3 of the HMRC publications “Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards. Supplement on Payments In.” for each relevant year. These publications are available on the HMRC website at:


23 Oct 2007 : Column 258W

The same information for over and under payments in 2006-07 will not be available until May 2008.

Health

Accident and Emergency Departments: Admissions

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of (a) type 1 accident and emergency attendances and (b) 999 calls resulted in a subsequent emergency admission on the grounds of a diagnosis of (i) stroke, (ii) heart attack and (iii) serious head injury in the most recent year for which figures are available. [156790]

Mr. Bradshaw: The information is not collected in the format requested.

Data are provided for the numbers of finished admission episodes admitted via accident and emergency (A&E) based on codes related to the headings of stroke, heart attack and head injury (see notes for list of codes). Emergency admissions via routes other than A&E have not been included.

These are a count of the admissions to a hospital bed only, following attendance at A&E. It is not possible to distinguish whether an admission from an A&E department was following a 999 call.

Information has also been provided on the number of type 1 A&E attendances and number of ambulance emergency calls and emergency incidents.

Count of finished admission episodes (FAE) via A&E for selected primary diagnoses( 1) , national health service hospitals, England, 2005-06
Count of FAE

Stroke

57,814

Heart Attack

61,974

Head Injury

124,759

(1) Count of finished admission episodes (FAE) via A&E for selected primary diagnoses Primary Diagnoses International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes: Stroke: 160 Subarachnoid haemorrhage 161 Intracerebral haemorrhage 162 Other non-traumatic intracranial haemorrhage 163 Cerebral infarction 164 Stroke, not specified as haemorrhage or infarction. Heart Attack 121 Acute myocardial infarction 122 Subsequent myocardial infarction. Head Injury: S00 Superficial injury of head S01 Open wound of head S02 Fracture of skull and facial bones S03 Dislocation, sprain and strain of joints and ligaments of head S04 Injury of cranial nerves S05 Injury of eye and orbit S06 Intracranial injury S07 Crushing injury of head S08 Traumatic amputation of part of head S09 Other and unspecified injuries of the head T00.0 Superficial injuries involving head with neck T01.0 Open wounds involving head with neck T02.0 Fractures involving head with neck T03.0 Dislocations, sprains and strains involving head with neck T04.0 Crushing injuries involving head with neck T06.0 Injuries of brain and cranial nerves with injuries of nerves and spinal cord at neck level. Emergency admission defined as admission method 21 and 28: 21 = Emergency: Via A&E services, including the casualty department of the provider 28 = Emergency: Other means, including patients who arrive via the A&E department of another health care provider. Finished admission episodes A finished admission episode is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one health care provider. Please note that admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year. Diagnosis (Primary Diagnosis) The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 14 (seven prior to 2002-03) diagnosis fields in the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data set and provides the main reason why the patient was in hospital. Ungrossed Data Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed). Data Quality HES are complied from data sent by over 300 NHS trusts and primary care trusts in England. The Information Centre for health and social care liaises closely with these organisations to encourage submission of complete and valid data and seeks to minimise inaccuracies and the effect of missing and invalid data via HES processes. While this brings about improvement over time, some shortcomings remain. Source: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), The Information Centre for health and social care.

Next Section Index Home Page