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Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 29 February 2008, on income tax rates for those on low incomes (PO reference: 1/54749/2008). 
Mr. Rob Wilson:
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department has made of
the average stamp duty paid by a first-time buyer in (a) Reading, (b) England and (c) the UK in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax avoidance schemes have been disclosed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC); and how many of those have been (a) accepted and (b) rejected by HMRC. 
Jane Kennedy: The numbers of disclosures received under both the direct and indirect tax disclosure regimes are published on the HMRC internet every six months. The latest statistics showing figures to 31 March 2008 can be accessed using the following link:-
The regime is a tool which is intended to provide HMRC with early information in order to identify and counteract the use of avoidance schemes so that the Government can legislate quickly to close any loopholes. The regime requires avoidance promoters to provide HMRC with details of schemes that fall within certain descriptions within five days of them being made available or implemented. It does not incorporate any acceptance or rejection type process. A disclosure would only be declined if it were made in error, for example if it concerned matters outside the scope of the disclosure regime.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of former service personnel receiving a Ministry of Defence pension had income below the ceiling of the 10 pence income tax band in 2007-08. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what contracts were awarded by (a) the Valuation Office Agency and (b) HM Revenue and Customs on behalf of the Valuation Office Agency to consultancy firms in the last 12 months. 
(a) Contracts have been awarded to four separate consultancies
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many completed (a) TC600, (b) MA1 and (c) CH2 forms his Department has (i) received and processed and (ii) lost in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
(i) Numbers of forms received and processed are shown in the following table.
(ii) Information on the numbers of forms lost is not available.
Mr. Gauke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what costs have been incurred by HM Revenue and Customs as a consequence of tax credit cases under investigation by the Financial Ombudsman in each of the last three years. 
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) in how many cases HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor (a) imposed a penalty under section 31 of the Tax Credits Act 2003 for making an incorrect statement or declaration or supplying incorrect information or evidence and (b) imposed a penalty under section 32(3) of the Tax Credits Act 2002 for failing to notify a specified change of circumstances in each year since 2003; 
(2) in how many cases HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor applied to the Appeals Service under section 32(1) and (2) of, and Schedule 2 to, the Tax Credits Act 2002 for a summons against an individual on evidence of failing to comply with a requirement regarding a final notice in each year since April 2003. 
|Number of cases|
HMRC made 12 applications in 2005-06 for a summons against an individual under section 32(1) and (2) of, and schedule 2 to, the Tax Credits Act 2002.16 applications were made in 2006-07 and five in 2007-08. No such applications were made in 2003-04 or 2004-05.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people receiving tax credits were involved in disputes relating to overpayments of benefit in each year since their inception; and how many of these cases were resolved (a) in favour and (b) not in favour of the claimant. 
Jane Kennedy: In 2007-08, around 185,000 households disputed an overpayment and HM Revenue and Customs wrote off tax credits overpayments in part or in full for around 6,000 households. Information on the number of households disputing an overpayment is not available before August 2006 but for information relating to the number of disputes received and cases written off for 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 17 March 2008, Official Report, columns 901-02W.
The figures for overpayments written off do not directly relate to those disputes that were received in the same period. TCO does not separately record whether an overpayment is written off in part or in full.
Jane Kennedy: When seeking to recover any of the debts for which it is responsible, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has a duty to strike a balance between a customer's ability to pay and its responsibility to recover monies properly owing to the Exchequer.
Where immediate, full payment is likely to cause the customer financial hardship, HMRC will normally reach an agreement to recover the debt over a longer period, usually 12 months. Where it is clear that a customer will still not be able to repay through such a staged arrangement, because they have little disposable income or assets, HMRC will normally suspend recovery but review the customer's circumstances at a later date to see if it would be possible to restart recovery because their financial circumstances have improved. Where it seems that a customer's financial circumstances are unlikely to change, for example because they are on long-term benefit or are seriously ill, HMRC will remit the debt.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the budget of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission will be for (a) enforcement and (b) encouraging voluntary arrangements in 2008-09. 
Mr. Plaskitt: Detailed cost planning for the commission is still under development, cost estimates are subject to change, and it is therefore not possible to provide the requested information at this time.
Subject to passage of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill it will be for the Commission to determine the budget for enforcement and encouraging voluntary arrangements once it is established.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much unpaid maintenance was owed by the Child Support Agency to parents with care in each quarter since 2005; how much has been written off in each year since 2005 as uncollectable; and if he will make a statement. 
In reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, the Secretary of State promised a substantive reply from the Chief Executive.
You asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how much unpaid maintenance was owed by the Child Support Agency to parents with care in each quarter since 2005; how much has been written off in each year since 2005 as uncollectable; and if he will make a statement. 
Unpaid child maintenance is not owed by the Child Support Agency but by those parents who have failed to meet their responsibilities towards their children.
The Agency has increased the amount of child maintenance including arrears collected or arranged over the first two years of the Operational Improvement Plan, collecting a record-breaking £1 billion in the year to March 2008. In addition internal Agency figures show that the rate at which child maintenance debt has been growing continues to reduce. In the year to March 2008 child maintenance debt grew at a rate of £10 million a month, which is less than half the rate at which debt was growing in the year to March 2006.
The amount of unpaid child maintenance owed at the end of each quarter for the period March 2005 to March 2008 is set out in the attached Table 1 including Agency internal figures for the year ending March 2008. This represents the total owed by parents, which has accrued over the 15 years of the Child Support Agency's operation.
The Agency does not have the power to write off debt and has never done so. The Agency does, however, undertake an annual Debt Analysis Exercise based on a sample of cases, to estimate the amount of debt assessed as collectable, and that which is deemed either possibly, or probably uncollectable. The results of this annual sample exercise are subject to review by the National Audit Office as part of their audit of the Agency's accounts, therefore the estimate for the year ending March 2008 will be published with the Agency's 2008 Annual Report and Accounts
later this year. The latest annual estimate of the collectability of unpaid child maintenance information is also available in Table 22a of the Quarterly Summary of Statistics, and has been set out in the attached Table 2 for ease.
It should be noted that classing a debt as possibly or probably uncollectable does not mean the Agency will not take action in the future to collect any outstanding money. The Agency will continue to make every effort to ensure parents fulfil their financial responsibility to their children, to provide a stable foundation on which the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission can build.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
|Table 1: Gross child maintenance debt (by quarter)|
|Month||Total gross debt (£ billion)|
|(1) Figures for March 2008, are internal Agency figures and are subject to review following National Audit Office scrutiny on the agency accounts for 2007-08.|
1. Figures rounded to nearest £0.1 billion.
2. Latest available data is March 2007.
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