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16 Jun 2008 : Column 698W—continued


Revenue and Customs: Redundancy

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many redundancies of staff at each grade are expected to result from the closure of HM Revenue and Customs offices Portcullis House and Tyler’s House in Southend-on-Sea; and if he will make a statement. [210505]

Jane Kennedy: At present there are no plans to make any redundancies at these sites. HMRC is committed to avoiding redundancies wherever possible and to helping staff find alternative posts either within the Department or elsewhere. A number of measures have been introduced to facilitate this and there has been a programme of consultation with staff in order to keep them informed of progress in their business area.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff employed by HM Revenue and Customs offices in Southend-on-Sea will be made (a) voluntarily and (b) compulsorily redundant; at what cost; and if he will make a statement. [210613]

Jane Kennedy: At present there are no plans for redundancy at these sites. HMRC is committed to avoiding redundancies (voluntary or compulsory) wherever possible and to helping staff find alternative posts either within the Department or elsewhere.

Revenue and Customs: Resignations

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials of each grade have voluntarily ceased employment, other than through redundancy, in HM Revenue and Customs offices in Southend-on-Sea since June 2007. [210504]

Jane Kennedy: The number of staff who voluntarily ceased employment from 1 June 2007 to 1 June 2008 is as follows:

Grade Total

Administrative Assistant

15

Assistant Officer

20

Officer

12

Higher Officer

10

Senior Officer

6

Grand Total

63


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Revenue and Customs: Visits Abroad

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the Answer of 2 April 2008, Official Report, columns 971-72W, on Revenue and Customs: visits abroad, if he will place in the Library a copy of the full itinerary for the visit to (a) New Zealand and (b) Australia. [208740]

Jane Kennedy: HMRC and HMT staff working on tax credits visited Australia and New Zealand early in 2008. During the course of the visit, officials met with a range of Government organisations responsible for the policy and operational delivery of tax credits systems in those countries, as well as representatives from the voluntary sector.

Stamp Duty Land Tax: Scotland

David Mundell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many property sales in Scotland had stamp duty levied upon them at the one per cent. rate in the latest year for which figures are available. [210345]

Kitty Ussher: There were estimated to be 53,000 property sales in Scotland with stamp duty land tax levied at the 1 per cent. rate in 2006-07. An estimate for 2007-08 will be available from the end of September.

Taxation: Trade Unions

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 2 April 2008, Official Report, column 971W, on taxation: trade unions (1) whether the political levy element of the subscription fee to the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), for members who have not opted out of the political fund of the trade union, is eligible for tax relief under the Section 344 scheme; [210963]

(2) whether the entire trade union subscription for members of the National Union of Teachers is eligible for tax relief under the Section 344 scheme. [210964]

Jane Kennedy: Tax relief under section 344 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 may be restricted if only a proportion of the activities of the body are directed to helping members maintain or enhance their ability to perform the duties of their employment. For example, if part of the income received as annual subscriptions from members is directed to a political fund then that will be a factor taken into account in determining what part of the annual subscription may be deducted.

Only two-thirds of the annual subscription fees paid for membership of the NASUWT and the NUT are eligible for tax relief to exclude the proportion of the fee relating to activities that are not directed to qualifying activities.


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Communities and Local Government

Allotments

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on the provision of allotments. [211243]

Mr. Iain Wright: In liaison with the Department, the Local Government Association revised a good practice guide, “Growing in the Community”, in March 2008. This includes a section on allotment provision. A free copy was sent to all local authorities.

The provision of allotments is the responsibility of local authorities. Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 places a duty on local authorities (except for inner London boroughs) to provide allotments where they perceive a demand for them in their area. Furthermore, “Planning Policy Guidance Note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, 2002” requires local authorities to make provision for all types of open space and requires them to undertake robust assessments of local needs and audits of existing open space, to establish standards for new provision. By implementing the guidance in PPG 17, local authorities should make adequate provision for allotments.

Council Housing

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local management agreements have been taken up since their introduction. [209913]

Mr. Iain Wright: Proposals for local management agreements (LMAs) were included in the Tenant Empowerment Consultation document published last June but as yet there has not been any formal introduction of LMAs by the Department. Some local authorities may already have such agreements in place, but this is not something collected by the Department.

Council Housing: Finance

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the historic debt outstanding against council house construction was in (a) cash terms and (b) as a proportion of the public sector borrowing requirement in each year since 1990; and what projections her Department has made for these figures in the future, including borrowing supported by arm's length management organisations. [203536]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Housing Revenue Account (HRA) capital financing requirement (CFR) is a measure of HRA debt. It is a "stock" which is rolled forward each year to take account of new borrowing for HRA purposes. The HRA CFR from 1992-93 to 2007-08 is set out in the following table. We cannot differentiate the purpose for which the debt was taken out.

The HRA CFR increases by the value of new borrowing every year and decreases by the value of principal repaid every year. The decline in HRA debt, from 1994-95 to 2004-05, shows that local authorities have been repaying more debt than they have been taking
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out. We would expect to see this as until 2004-05 local authorities were compelled to set-aside money to repay debt and this was taken into consideration in the calculation of their HRA debt level, and hence a reduction in the percentages of housing revenue account capital financing charge as public sector net debt.


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Public sector net debt (PSND) is the main measure of national debt used in the Government's fiscal policy framework. PSND records financial liabilities issued by the public sector less its holdings of liquid financial assets. Public sector includes central Government, local government and public corporations.

PSND (£) HRA debt (£) HRA debt/PSND (percentage)

1992-93

202,600,000,000

20,039,091,106

9.89

1993-94

249,800,000,000

20,386,546,784

8.16

1994-95

290,000,000,000

20,818,339,121

7.18

1995-96

322,100,000,000

20,648,130,105

6.41

1996-97

348,000,000,000

20,212,328,553

5.81

1997-98

352,900,000,000

19,708,079,143

5.58

1998-99

351,600,000,000

19,029,932,961

5.41

1999-2000

345,400,000,000

18,487,181,937

5.35

2000-01

312,400,000,000

17,606,728,155

5.64

2001-02

315,500,000,000

17,592,048,166

5.58

2002-03

347,100,000,000

16,425,428,521

4.73

2003-04

382,800,000,000

14,009,766,512

3.66

2004-05

423,600,000,000

12,889,346,585

3.04

2005-06

463,000,000,000

13,307,369,486

2.87

2006-07

499,500,000,000

14,519,552,650

2.91

2007-08

527,700,000,000

15,480,866,859

2.93

Notes: 1. No distinction is drawn between debt for new construction and debt for refurbishment. They are all included in the overall figures. 2. From 2001-02 onwards the Department did not collect data on local authority borrowing for spending on their council housing from those authorities with no notional housing debt (used in calculating HRA subsidy entitlement).

Projections of future borrowing are budget allocations for the spending review period 2008-11 and are in the following table:

£
LA SCE(R) for spend on LA stock Additional LA borrowing for ALMOs

2008-09

272,418,000

809,000,000

2009-10

269,190,000

809,000,000

2010-11

258,755,000

759,000,000

Note: 1. The forecast figures for 2008-09 to 2010-11 reflect the estimated level of supported capital expenditure (revenue) and additional LA borrowing for ALMOs to be supported by DCLG, rather than any actual level of borrowing that authorities may enter into. How much actual future debt each individual local authority holds will be a Treasury management decision for that authority.

Departmental Postal Services

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department spent on sending mail overseas in each year since 2001, broken down by delivery company. [208511]

Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Angus (Mr. Weir) on 26 October 2006, Official Report, column 2042W.

As a result of the low levels of activity, the Department for Communities and Local Government does not routinely record international mail costs separately from inland mail. Upon investigation we have identified a spend of £399.99 between May 2007 and May 2008 for international mail and this is administered by Corporate Mailing Services (CMS), a private company which is used by MITIE Document Solutions. CMS is the trading name of Royale Research Ltd.

Departmental Public Participation

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many consultations her Department undertook in each of the last five years; and how many resulted in the non-preferred option being adopted. [210628]

Mr. Dhanda: Over the past five calendar years to December 2007, Communities and Local Government and my predecessor Department undertook respectively:

All of these consultations were launched in order to inform policy development, as a way of exposing preliminary policy analysis to public scrutiny. Consultation is one of a number of mechanisms by which Government seek to listen to as wide a range of opinion as possible before making a final decision. Information on the non-preferred options is not collected, and this could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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