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Tax Credits

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints have been received concerning the operations of the public helpline for tax credits since its introduction. [114010]

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) on 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 161W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 7 May, Official Report, column 689W, on tax credits, if he will hold discussions with the Child Poverty Action Group on passported benefits available with the child tax credit. [114529]

The Government discuss passported benefits attached to the new tax credits with a wide range of organisations.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many standard letters the Inland Revenue has issued (a) in total and (b) in the last month to tax credit applicants, asking them to confirm their name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. [114569]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: Standard letters seeking to confirm name, address, date of birth, national insurance numbers—and other details—relevant to tax credit claims are issued as part of normal day to day claims processing and compliance activity.Figures on the number of standard letters issued are not readily available and could only be compiled at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 689W, on tax credits, if he will put details about the passported benefits available with tax credits on the application forms; and whether the leaflet described in his response will be sent to all those in receipt of tax credits. [113347]

The notes that accompany the tax credit claim form already refer to other help—such as free prescriptions—that maybe available.The new leaflet (WTC6) is now available on the Inland Revenue website and will soon also be available on request from Inland Revenue Enquiry Centres.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to provide a freephone number for people (a) making enquiries about and (b) following up claims for the (i) child tax credit and (b) working tax credit. [113731]

The Tax Credits Helpline, along with other helplines operated by the Inland Revenue, are charged at local call rates. The telephone response line—0800 500222—featured in the advertising campaigns since September 2002 providing general information on eligibility and claim packs is a freephone number.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time taken by the Inland Revenue children's and working tax credits helpline to deal with calls has been since August 2002; how many calls were lost or terminated before being answered by a helpline operator; and how these figures compare with the targets set for the helpline. [107555]

For the Great Britain helpline, over the period August 2002 to March 2003 inclusive, an average time of about 4 minutes and 40 seconds elapsed between an adviser answering a call and their ending any immediate post-call action on that case.In the same period, out of a total of 5,701,108 calls received, 4,594,743 were answered by a helpline operator, with 1,106,365 calls where the caller was put in a queue to speak to an adviser, following the selection of an option from the call steering menu, but the call was lost or terminated before the caller spoke to the adviser.There were no service delivery targets for either figure for this period.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many persons in London, broken down by borough, have applied for working tax credit; and if he will make a statement; [114961](2) what the average time has been for dealing with applications in London for working tax credit, broken down by borough; and if he will make a statement; [114962](3) what the average period of time has been since the introduction of working tax credits from application to first payment in London, broken down by borough; and if he will make a statement. [114960]

Figures for applications received for Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are not available below the national level. Statistics on awards of these tax credits will be published in August.For the time taken to process applications, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on 28 April 2003,

Official Report, column 161W.