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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many agency staff are currently employed by (a) his Department, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) his Department's other agencies. 
Jonathan Shaw: Information on the numbers of employment agency staff engaged by DEFRA's executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
For the core Department, and from information held centrally for the period February 2007 to January 2008 inclusive, the average monthly number of employment agency staff engaged by the core Department is approximately 234.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department and its predecessors paid to Zurich Financial Services in each year since 1997; and what the purpose of the payment was in each case. 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA came into being in June 2001. The core Departments financial systems record one payment to Zurich Insurance Company of £169.35 made in May 2002. The precise purpose of this small payment is unknown without further investigation given that it was made some six years ago and the cost of investigation would exceed the sum paid.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to the public purse was of (a) halving relief and (b) changing the indexation allowance for capital gains tax in the last year for which figures are available. 
Jane Kennedy: Figures for the cost of halving relief for capital gains tax are not available. Latest estimates of the cost of the indexation allowance for capital gains tax to the Exchequer are published in Table A3.1 of the 2008 Financial Statement and Budget report.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what funding Citizens Advice will receive from the Financial Inclusion Fund in each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. 
We have indicated that we will grant CitA £17 million, £16 million and £16.5 million in each of the next three years. This will allow it to continue to provide free-face-to-face debt advice to the financially excluded. In total, this project had helped over 90,000 clients to the end of 2007.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the hon. Member for West Chelmsfords letter of 27 February 2008 concerning Mr B. Clarke of Walford Place, Chelmsford, sent to the Minister of State in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and transferred to his Department on 26 March. 
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the likely effects of recent changes in the taxation regime affecting void properties on small investors with property in areas of low demand. 
Angela Eagle: The reforms to empty property relief in national non-domestic rates in England and Wales, which came into effect on 1 April 2008, will provide a further incentive for small property investors with empty properties to be flexible around letting terms, to redevelop them or to sell them to someone who can make better use of the buildings or land.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the introduction of rate relief in respect of empty commercial properties where properties remain unlet in areas which have experienced regeneration. 
Angela Eagle: Empty property relief applies in the same way to properties in all areas of England and Wales. Unlet properties in areas which have experienced regeneration benefit from the three and six month relief periods.
Sammy Wilson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the change in revenue to the Exchequer arising from the higher rate of taxation affecting void properties in the next 12 months. 
Angela Eagle: The Government estimate that the impact on tax revenue of reforms to empty property relief, which only applies in England and Wales, will be £950 million in 2008-09. This estimate was published in the 2007 and 2008 Budget reports.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated annual cost to the public purse is of the introduction of the zero-carbon homes stamp duty land tax relief for new flats. 
Angela Eagle: Gambling products are subject to a range of different taxes. Bingo in licensed premises is subject to bingo duty at 15 per cent. on gross profits and most participation fees for such bingo are subject to VAT at the standard rate. All gambling industries are also subject to the usual taxes imposed on business. For bingo, the effective tax rate, which measures the combined impact of VAT and duty on a comparable basis, is in line with that on casinos, machines and the lottery.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number and percentage of cases in which inaccurate documents were deliberately submitted to HM Revenue and Customs by tax credit claimants in each year for which figures are available; and what the estimated cost to the public purse of such practices was. 
Jane Kennedy: I refer the hon. Member to Child and Working Tax Credits, Error and Fraud Statistics available at: www.hmrc.gov.uk which include estimates of the number and costs of claims submitted fraudulently.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the armed forces benefits calculator; what the operating costs of the scheme are estimated to be; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The contract for the armed forces benefits calculator was awarded to Methods Consulting (a registered company on the Defence Communication Services Agency's Information and Communication Services catalogue) on 10 January 2007. Throughout 2007, the calculator underwent extensive development work in close consultation with subject matter experts and the single services; this included the successful completion of a field trial involving a cross-section of ranks from each of the three services.
Methods Consulting have sub-contracted the day-to-day development and hosting of the armed forces benefits calculator to Thomsons Online Benefits, a company which specialises in the creation of employee reward solutions. The total cost of the MODs contract with Methods Consulting is estimated at £109,680, excluding VAT, which includes £20,160, less VAT, per annum for Thomsons Online Solutions to host the calculator for a two year period from 1 April 2008. Arrangements for the further development and hosting beyond April 2010 have yet to be decided.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library the (a) objectives, (b) evaluation and (c) criteria for assessment used in the preparation of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator; what benchmarking he plans to undertake to ensure that the performance of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator compares accurately with assessments for non-armed forces individuals; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Prior to the launch of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator, there was no mechanism in place to permit Service personnel easily to identify their total worth. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body has previously commented that Service personnel lack awareness of the total value of their armed forces remuneration package, and that more should be done to assess and communicate the value of the package. In addition, the introduction of Joint Personnel Administration has inevitably placed a greater emphasis on the need for clear and easily accessible internal communication on pay and allowances matters. Her Majestys Treasury has also, over the years, challenged the MOD about not communicating effectively to staff the value and merits of the armed forces total reward package.
Although some progress had been made in this area (a fact sheet is available on the Defence intranet) the information is very generic, non-interactive and not particularly accessible. The vast majority of personnel, while aware of their annual salary and allowances packages, continue to view each of these elements in isolation, and many other financial benefits remain invisible (such as medical/dental care, and physical education opportunities). Building on the success of the existing Armed Forces Pension Calculator, the new Benefits Calculator was thus created to provide greater clarity of the total reward package incorporating basic pay, specialist pay, individual allowances, pension, and other benefits where a realistic financial value can be attributed.
The range of remuneration and allowance-based benefits included in the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator will be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they remain relevant to comparable rates in civilian life and continue to be retention and recruitment positive. In addition,
the calculator includes other benefits (such as dental care and health and fitness facilities) which are not strictly remuneration or allowance-related but are included to convey the extent of the total benefits package available to Service personnel in return for military service, and to provide an indication of what replicating these benefits might cost in civilian life. The terms and conditions governing the use of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator state that the Calculator is for guidance purposes only, and that it is not intended to provide formal financial advice.
Initial feedback on the operation and utility of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator has been very positive, and at the time of writing over 14,000 calculations had been completed. The effectiveness of the Calculator will be reviewed over the coming months, including an assessment of the relative benefits of including links to other sites/pages providing information on a variety of related matters, currently including:
a. Discountsprincipally through the Forces Discount Brochure.
b. News/information on pay and allowances matters.
c. Financial information, particularly in support of MODs ongoing work with the single Services to deliver the Governments National Strategy on Financial Capability, including links to the established Financial Service Authorities Money Made Clear website.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The Armed Forces Benefits Calculator was developed to provide Service personnel with a quick and convenient way of working out the indicative value of their total remuneration and benefits package. The introduction of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator has, therefore, made it easier for personnel to make a direct comparison between their current remuneration and that being offered by civilian employersand by doing so to demonstrate the value of their benefits package as a whole. The Armed Forces Benefits Calculator has been developed also to provide potential recruits with a means of investigating the type of remuneration and benefits that might be available should they choose to join the armed forces. The Calculator uses a combination of existing pay rates and allowances details of which can be found at: http://www.mod.uk and some new values, which have been agreed with subject matter experts and the single Services. These new values are included to provide a broad indication of what some of the other benefits personnel receive in return for military service (such as dental care, and health and fitness facilities) might cost to replicate in civilian life.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what courses are available as (a) standard learning credit and (b) advanced learning credit as part of the Armed Forces Benefits Calculator; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The MOD promotes lifelong learning among members of the armed forces, and this is encouraged through the Learning Credits schemes. The Standard Learning Credit (SLC) scheme supplies
financial support, throughout the Service persons career, for multiple, small-scale learning activities. The Enhanced Learning Credit (ELC) scheme is designed to complement the SLC scheme by providing larger scale help to personnel who qualify to pay for higher level learning at Level 3 (GCE A level and equivalent) and above. For both schemes a wide variety of vocational and academic courses may be undertaken which lead to or facilitate the award of a nationally recognised qualification as defined by the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (England and Wales to be superseded by the Qualifications Credits Framework (QCF)), or the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). The SLC and ELC schemes aim to motivate full time members of the armed forces to pursue their personal development during their service career to the benefit of both the Service and the individual. Any unused ELC benefit, however, may be used for up to 10 years afterwards, subject to the qualifying criteria being met.
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The armed forces do not actively recruit overseas with the exception of Gurkhas from Nepal. However, in recent years the Royal Navy and the Army have sent selection teams to some Commonwealth countries at the specific request of the government concerned, and only then when evidence suggests that there is sufficient interest amongst the local population to merit a visit. The selection teams screen out those who are not thought capable of meeting the full entry standards, to save them the cost of an abortive trip to the UK to undergo the recruitment selection process. The costs incurred as a result of the overseas selection team visits were as follows:
|(1) To date.|
Figures rounded to nearest 100
Gurkha recruitment policy is different to that for the regular UK armed forces. Recruitment to the Brigade of Gurkhas is conducted once a year, in Nepal. A selection team travels to Nepal from the UK to assist the in-country recruiting team with the selection process. The costs incurred by the recruiting team from outside Nepal were as follows:
Figures rounded to the nearest 100.
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