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2 July 2008 : Column 967W—continued

Revenue and Customs: Crewe

Mr. Timpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many jobs are expected to be lost if planned closures of HM Revenue and Customs offices take place in (a) Crewe and (b) the North West; and if he will make a statement. [214476]

Jane Kennedy: The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Crewe is being reviewed as a cluster with Macclesfield and Northwich. No decision has yet been taken to retain or vacate any of these offices.

The eventual reduction in staff numbers in the cluster will depend upon the outcome of the review. Inquiry centre services will however be maintained in the locality. In the longer run HMRC aims to deliver better value to the taxpayer by operating more effectively with fewer staff.

At 1 April 2008 HMRC had a staff headcount of 14,746 across the North West as a whole. By 31 March 2011 the present estimate for staff required in the region is 14,050. This is based on the latest business planning projections and may be subject to change.

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Mr. Timpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for what reasons the HM Revenue and Customs office in Crewe was (a) originally earmarked to remain open and (b) subsequently scheduled for closure. [214477]

Jane Kennedy: Proposals for the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office in Crewe, which for review purposes has been grouped with Macclesfield and Northwich, have only recently been announced under HMRC's regional review programme.

These proposals, published for consultation on 11 June, envisage withdrawal from Crewe but final decisions have not yet been taken. Whatever the outcome of the review, an inquiry centre service offering face to face advice to HMRC customers will remain in Crewe.

Revenue and Customs: Resignations

Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary exit schemes at HM Revenue and Customs offices in Southend-on-Sea, for staff at each grade in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent in 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [210507]

Jane Kennedy: No staff have left HMRC in Southend on involuntary exit schemes. HMRC are committed to avoiding redundancies wherever possible and to helping staff find alternative posts either within the Department or elsewhere.

Three voluntary exit schemes are currently available for all HMRC staff.

Approved Early Retirement (AER) is for permanent staff age 50 to 60 with at least five years qualifying service and offers immediate access to accrued pension benefits without actuarial reductions, but without any enhancement.

Flexible Early Severance (FES) is for permanent staff age under 50 with at least one year qualifying service, or for those age 50 to 60 with between one and five years qualifying service. The benefits payable vary according to length of service

Public Sector Release Scheme (PSRS), is for permanent members of staff with at least one year service and satisfactory completion of their probation period. Staff who leave on this scheme enter into a period of training that leads to a professional qualification required for employment in a role within the wider public sector in, for example, medical professions in the NHS. Eligible staff receive a one off lump sum payment and financial support for their first year's training costs.

The statistics for staff in Southend who have left HMRC under any of these schemes are set out in the following tables. Figures are available only for the periods 2005-06 onwards for AER, 2006-07 onwards for PSRS and 2008-09 for FES. There will be further exits in 2008-09 across HMRC but it is not possible to say how much will be spent on exits from Southend.

Exits on Approved Early Retirement schemes

2 July 2008 : Column 969W

Grade Total at each Grade Costs per Grade/Year (£)

















Grade 6/7
















Grade 6













Grade 7



Grade 6






Grand Total



Exits on the Flexible Early Severance scheme

A FES scheme was not available for staff in Southend in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08. The current scheme was made available in April 2008 and to date there have been no departures of staff in Southend.

Exits on the Public Sector Release Scheme

PSRS is a new scheme that has only been available since November 2006. There has been only one departure as follows:

Grade Total Cost (£)


Administrative Assistant












Income Tax: Tax Rates and Bands

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what reports were commissioned by Ministers to determine the effects of the abolition of the 10 pence tax rate on low earners; [211789]

(2) whether any external consultants were employed to determine the effects of the abolition of the 10 pence tax rate on low earners. [211790]

Jane Kennedy: As the Chancellor made clear to the Treasury Committee on 4 June, the distributional effects are considered when changes to taxation are made. No reports were commissioned or external consultants employed.

Melli Bank Plc

Mr. Hague: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effects of the EU’s decision to proscribe the Iranian bank Melli on the operations of Melli Bank Plc in the UK. [215291]

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Kitty Ussher: The impact is detailed in a notice on HM Treasury’s website, ‘Financial sanctions: Supplement to Notice on Iran of 24 June 2008—Bank Melli Iran and Melli Bank plc’. This is publicly available on the financial sanctions pages at:

Taxation: Self-assessment

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the cost of an enquiry into self assessment tax returns HM Revenue and Customs will pay, with particular reference to those which show no irregularities; and if he will make a statement. [215339]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 1 July 2008]: As a general rule, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) do not pay or reimburse the costs that a person incurs in meeting their taxation obligations; this includes costs of complying with an enquiry into a return.

However, where HMRC mistakes or unreasonable delay have added to those costs unnecessarily, the Department will consider the matter under its ex gratia redress policy and reimburse reasonable amounts that have arisen directly from its mistakes or unreasonable delay. HMRC makes every effort to keep down its customers’ compliance costs and to limit enquiries and requests for information to what is strictly necessary. It is an undertaking to customers stated in HMRC’s codes of practice and other publications. There are no set amounts or percentages available as decisions are made on a case by case basis.

Welfare Tax Credits

Mr. Sharma: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of tax credits in reducing the number of children in poverty. [215425]

Jane Kennedy: Tax credits play a key role in making work pay and reducing poverty, and have helped to lift 600,000 children out of relative poverty since 1998-99.

Welfare Tax Credits: Complaints

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints his Department has received on the tax credit system from residents in Tamworth constituency in the last 12 months. [215838]

Jane Kennedy: The information requested is not available at constituency level.

Welfare Tax Credits: Overpayments

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many schedules to repay tax credits overpayments where the last repayment date falls (a) before 2010, (b) from 2010 to 2014, (c) from 2015 to 2019, (d) from 2020 to 2024 and (e) in 2025 or later have been issued by his Department in the last 12 months. [215156]

Jane Kennedy: The information requested is not available centrally.

2 July 2008 : Column 971W

Children, Schools and Families

Academies: Pupil Exclusions

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many pupils have been permanently excluded from each academy school since their inception; what assessment he has made of how this figure compares with (a) all secondary schools, (b) maintained secondary schools and (c) denominational secondary schools; and if he will make a statement. [215584]

Kevin Brennan: The number of permanent exclusions from each academy, the number of permanent exclusions from state funded secondary schools and the number of permanent exclusions from local authority maintained secondary schools in each year since 2002-03 to 2005-06 are provided in the table. Local authority level exclusions data relating to the 2006-07 school year are expected to be available from 10 July 2008. Further analysis of the trends in exclusions from academies will also be available from 10 July.

Information on the number of exclusions from denominational schools could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

As a group, academies have an overall pattern of exclusions that is almost identical to the pattern for a control group of similar schools.

Academies often inherit a large number of disengaged pupils and need to establish good behaviour in order to raise attainment. Academies place great emphasis on getting the basics right and improving behaviour in particular. As the new ethos and behaviour policy are implemented in an academy's early days, the number of exclusions may rise, but it typically falls as behaviour improves. This phenomenon is not unique to academies—the same effect is often observed when a new head teacher transforms a struggling maintained school.

A paper illustrating the pattern of exclusions and comparing exclusions in academies with a control group of schools with similar characteristics has been placed in the House Library. The chart included in this paper shows the overall distribution of exclusions in academies and a group of control schools.

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