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Tax Credits

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps (a) to investigate the case of Mrs. Hughes of Brixham, a constituent of the hon. Member for Totnes, and (b) to ensure that she ceases to receive unsolicited cheques for tax credit to which she is not entitled. (97332)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: I have asked HM Revenue and Customs to urgently investigate Mrs. Hughes’s case and to ensure that no further payments are made to her until her continuing entitlement to tax credits has been confirmed.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many tax credit claims have been stopped because of fraud or suspicion of fraud in each month since May 2006; and if he will make a statement; (95580)

(2) how many tax credit claims in payment have been stopped since 1st July due to fraud and suspicion of fraud.

Information on compliance interventions for 2005-06 can be found in the Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report on HMRC's 2005-06 Accounts. Information on tax credit compliance interventions for 2006-07 will be available at the end of the year.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what proportion of appeals against tax credit overpayments were successful in each (a) month, (b) quarter and (c) year since April 2003; (96124)

(2) how many tax credit overpayments were (a) disputed and (b) successfully disputed in each (i) month since 1st May 2006 and (ii) year since 2003-04; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers I gave him on 14 July 2006, Official Report, column 2116W, and 18 July 2006, Official Report, columns 359-60W and to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Mr. Alexander) on 10 October 2006, Official Report, columns 730-31W.

The Tax Credit Office (TCO) received around 31,500 disputed overpayments in September 2006.

The number of overpayments where the overpayment was successfully disputed, that is, where the overpayment was written off in full or in part by the TCO because of official error, was around 1,000 in September 2006.

The figures for overpayments written off do not directly relate to those disputes that were received in the same month.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost of advertising and publicity relating to tax credits has been for each year since 2003-04. (97653)

Total media spend, exclusive of VAT, in each year is as follows:

£ million

2003-04

7.25

2004-05

6.5

2005-06

3.4

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of fraud involving the child care element of tax credits; and if he will make a statement. (97664)

Estimates of fraud and error involving child care costs were included in the document “Child and Working Tax Credits Error and fraud statistics 2003-04” available on the HMRC website at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/stats.htm

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the methods used to steal (a) Department of Work and Pensions and (b) Network Rail staff identities in 2005-06 to use in relation to tax credit fraud; and if he will make a statement. (97668)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 18 January 2006, Official Report, columns 1357-58W, and to the HMRC publication “Tackling error and fraud in the Child and Working Tax Credits”, available on the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the total volume of (a) actual and (b) prevented organised tax credit fraud since April 2003; and if he will make a statement. (97669)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 17 July 2006, Official Report, columns 161-62W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has assessed the merits of returning to a system of fixed tax credit awards; and if he will make a statement. (97671)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many staff work on tax benefits administration; and how many did so in April 2006; (97672)

(2) how many staff were employed by HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor bodies in each year since 2000-01; how many of these staff worked wholly or partly on tax credits; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 19 July 2005, Official Report, column 1699W.

The number of staff employed in 2005-06 can be found at part 2, figure 1, of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s standard report for 2005-06 which is available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/chronindex.asp?type=account.

Around 8,750 staff were employed in 2005-06.

Overall staffing figures for earlier years for the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise can be found in their annual reports.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated level is of systematic tax credit fraud in 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. (97675)

The information is not available. The 2006-07 random enquiry programme cannot start until after finalisation. Results of the 2003-04 random enquiry programme can be found in “Child and Working Tax Credits Error and Fraud Statistics 2003-04”, available at www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/index.htm.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost was of tax credit administration in 2005-06, broken down by main cost headings. (97696)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1950W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many overpayments of (a) working tax credit and (b) child tax credit were found to be a result of HM Revenue and Customs error in 2005-06. (98043)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax credit overpayments have involved an element of official error since 1 April 2005; and if he will make a statement. (98134)

The information is not available.

Estimates of numbers and values of overpayments or underpayments for 2005-06 awards will not be available until family circumstances and incomes for 2005-06 have been finalised. HM Revenue and Customs statistics for 2005-06 will be available next spring.

Amounts written off due to official error will be included in the remissions figure in HMRCs accounts.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what procedures (a) HM Revenue and Customs and (b) the Department have in place for the approval of easements to tax credit verification rules; how these have changed since 2002; and if he will make a statement; (98138)

(2) whether approval is needed from (a) the Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs and (b) Treasury Ministers for easement of the tax credit verification rules.

HMRC has operational responsibility for the administration of tax credits. The HMRC governance structure was set out in their spring departmental report, published in June 2006.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many callers to the tax credits helpline received an engaged tone and were not placed in a queue for each month since June; and if he will make a statement. (97271)