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Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect on costs of increased travel allowances for staff relocated from HM Revenue and Customs' Brecon office to an alternative tax office. 
Jane Kennedy [holding answer 8 July 2008]: Financial considerations are examined in detail in the feasibility phase of reviews, and maximum costs of extra travel for staff are published in the impact assessments produced by HMRC once closure decisions have been announced for particular buildings. These can be found on the HMRC website:
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the environmental impact of closures of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices in Wales, including the impact of additional travel by HMRC staff. 
Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is committed to reducing its environmental footprint. Although closure of offices may mean additional travelling time for some people, by reducing the number of offices HMRC occupies and using the remaining office space more efficiently, it will reduce its heating, lighting and IT equipment emissions, and so reduce its carbon footprint.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what visits have been made by the workforce change team to each HM Revenue and Customs office in Wales which is proposed for closure; and what the date of each visit was. 
Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is currently consulting with staff, trade unions and other key stakeholders on the proposals for those offices in cluster and individual locations in Wales. Before HMRC put recommendations to me for decision, extensive feasibility work is completed which includes visits to sites where appropriate. To date visits have been made by HMRC officials to all offices in Cardiff and Swansea urban centres where the decisions have already been announced. Visits have also been made to the cluster and individual offices in the east and south west of Wales including offices along the west coast of Wales and visits are planned for the remaining offices in mid and north Wales. Details of the specific dates when these visits took place could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Jane Kennedy: The Debt Management and Banking (DMB) field force in Wales currently have two staff members who are fluent in Welsh. There are also approximately 15 office based staff within Debt Management and Banking who provide support to Welsh speakers. DMB plan to provide the same level of service to Welsh speakers in future as it currently does and is working with other parts of HMRC to ensure this happens.
Jane Kennedy: The estimated estate savings for offices in the Cardiff and Swansea urban centres which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plans to vacate are shown in the following table and were published in impact assessments on the HMRC website:
|Potential estate savings from vacation (£)|
Jane Kennedy: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) specifically comments on socio-economic issues in its impact assessments which are completed for every building where a decision has been made to vacate. Decisions have been announced on the Cardiff and Swansea urban centres and those impact assessments are available on HMRCs internet site:
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the annual estate cost is of (a) Swinson House, York, (b) Hilary House, York, (c) Cherry Court, Hull and (d) Custom House, Hull; and until what dates the Government have contractual obligations to rent or lease each building. 
All four of the buildings were included in the Strategic Transfer of the Estate to the Private Sector (STEPS) outsourcing deal with Mapeley STEPS Contractor Limited in April 2001. HMRC now occupies each building under the terms of the STEPS contract. The contract expires on 1 April 2021 but HMRC will be able to continue to occupy beyond this date and also has flexibility within the contract to vacate properties prior to the expiry date.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff Hilary House, York can accommodate; whether the Government intend to retain this building until 2011; whether they are considering sub-leasing any part of the building before 2011; and if he will make a statement. 
HMRC's planning assumption for Hilary House shows approximately 200 workstations. However, staff occupancy figures will vary depending on the operational requirements of the specific HMRC business units to be accommodated in the property.
HMRC has proposed the retention of Hilary House under the change programme and once the current stage of the review process concludes HMRC will be able to determine the final requirements for this building and will consider at that time any options for disposal of space that is identified as surplus to requirements.
|HMRC Enquiry Centre in Swinson House, York , c ustomers 2005-08|
|Number of customers|
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the Government will retain in York an HM Revenue and Customs inquiry centre, open to the public from 8.30am until 5.00pm Monday to Friday providing the current range of services, until 2011 at least; and what estimate he has made of the annual estate cost of doing so would be. 
Jane Kennedy: HMRC will retain an inquiry centre in York. They review their opening hours regularly to ensure that they match customer demand and there are no plans to reduce the full time service they offer in York.
As the accommodation review is ongoing, the final decision for the relocation of the inquiry centre has yet to be determined. This will impact on annual estate costs. An estimate of potential costs, however, taken from two inquiry centres recently set up by HMRC is for annual estate costs of approximately £52,500. The annual estate cost comprises rent, landlord service charge, rates and utilities.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will direct HM Revenue and Customs to seek information from the US Internal Revenue Service on the sale of illegal tax shelters; and what information he has received on the availability in the UK of the VIPER products marketed by Ernst and Young. 
Under the terms of the bilateral double taxation convention between the United Kingdom and the United States, the tax authorities of the two states have regular discussions about tax avoidance schemes,
exchanging any information that is necessary for the assessment, collection and enforcement of the taxes covered by the convention.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment (a) he and (b) HM Revenue and Customs have made of the implications for the Exchequer of new forms of trust created by the states of Jersey and other tax jurisdictions since 2005; and what representations the Government have made in response. 
Jane Kennedy: The question of whether the income and gains of a trust are liable to United Kingdom taxes depends on a number of factors such as whether the trustees are treated as being resident in the United Kingdom for tax purposes, what connection the settler has to the trust, and what the beneficiaries of the trust are entitled to under the terms of the trust. The particular structures provided for by non UK law do not determine residence or chargeability to UK tax and HMRC has not carried out detailed analysis of these particular types of trust.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what additional (a) funding and (b) other support his Department plans to provide to Citizens Advice Bureaux in anticipation of the introduction of the employment and support allowance. 
Mr. Timms: Employment and support allowance (ESA) will be introduced on the 27 October 2008 and the ESA programme is working with a range of customer representative groups including Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB). Through this forum the ESA programme is committed to assist Citizens Advice Bureaux in introducing ESA into their organisation including the sharing of products to support implementation activity. The programme is working on areas highlighted through this group as areas of particular interest. This level of engagement will increase as we approach 27 October. The ESA programme Director, Phil Bartlett has met with senior CAB colleagues, to agree how we can work together to ensure the delivery of ESA is a success. This does not include any additional funding for the Citizens Advice Bureaux.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people were subject to a county court claim by his Department for defaulting on repayments of a (a) crisis loan and (b) budget loan in each year since 2003, broken down by the (i) on benefit caseload and (ii) off benefit caseload; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how many people have been subject to a county court judgment as a result of a county court claim by his Department for defaulting on repayments of a
(a) crisis loan and (b) budgeting loan in each year since 2003, broken down by (i) on-benefit caseload and (ii) off-benefit caseload; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) how many people have had items repossessed for defaulting on repayments of (a) a crisis loan and (b) a budgeting loan in each year since 2003, broken down by (i) on-benefit caseload and (ii) off-benefit caseload; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) in how many cases his Department has taken action against people who have defaulted on repayments of (a) a crisis loan and (b) a budgeting loan in each year since 2003, broken down by (i) on-benefit caseload and (ii) off-benefit caseload; and if he will make a statement. 
Court action is only taken against those no longer on the benefit caseload. Such action is taken only should a voluntary arrangement not be possible, or if there is a default on that arrangement. The Department does not seek repossession of items in default cases.
The number of people subject to a county court claim by the Department for Work and Pensions for defaulting on Social Fund repayments is set out in the following table. The information cannot be separated between budgeting loans and crisis loans. No action has been taken to enforce recovery of outstanding loans through the courts since 2005-06.
|Number of court claims and judgements in Social Fund cases|
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