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Welfare Tax Credits

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 1 May 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many complaints about tax credits HM Revenue and Customs received from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public by (i) telephone, (ii) letter and (iii) e-mail in each month since April 2003; (194467)

(2) how many (a) letters, (b) e-mails and (c) telephone calls on tax credits have been received by (i) his Department, (ii) HM Revenue and Customs and (iii) the Tax Credit Office from (A) hon. Members and (B) members of the public in each quarter since April 2003.

Overall, the Tax Credit Office (TCO) post room handles around 3.5 to 4 million items of post each year. Quarterly information for the years for which the information is available is shown in the following table.

Items of post received in Tax Credit Office

Quarter ending

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

June

1,119,000

917,500

998,000

807,500

September

1,210,500

1,069,000

1,173,500

1,211,000

December

948,500

936,000

984,500

793,000

March

924,500

908,000

898,000

1637,500

1 Final quarter to 18 March 2008.

Information separately identifying the number of items of post received from hon. Members and members of the public is not available.

HMRC does not separately record if complaints are made by letter, in a phone call or by way of an e-mail. For details of the number of people who sent complaints to TCO up to 31 December 2007, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) on 18 February 2008, Official Report, columns 374-75W.

2008

Number of complainants (approximate)

January

3,250

February

3,200

Information about the number of complaints sent by right hon. Members and hon. Members in each quarter is shown in the following table.

MP complaints addressed to Tax Credit Office (approximate)

Quarter ending

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

June

800

1,900

1,900

1,650

September

1,250

2,550

2,100

1,500

December

2,250

2,700

2,150

1,650

March

2,900

2,500

2,000

1850

1 Final quarter only to 29 February 2008.

For the number of calls answered each month by the TCO MP hotline up to and including May 2007, I refer the hon. Member to the answer that the then Paymaster General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Dawn Primarolo) gave the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) on 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 419W. The information requested for 2006-07 and 2007-08 is provided in the following table.

Received

Handled

Abandoned

2006-07

17,776

17,360

416

2007-081

12,654

12,452

202

1 To end of February 2008.

New telephony equipment was introduced to the hon. Members’ hotline in October 2005 so the first full year in which information about the number of calls that were abandoned before being answered by an adviser is 2006-07.

With regard to the number of calls received on the Tax Credits helpline, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him today (194486), which shows that monthly figures, to April 2007, have previously been provided. The following table shows this information for those quarters where the full information has not previously been provided.

Quarter ending

Calls received (Thousand)

June 2007

7,080

September 2007

7,303

December 2007

4,305

TCO does not record separately the number of calls it receives from its customers.

The other information requested is available only at disproportionate cost.

HM Treasury does not routinely record statistical information on the number of letters, calls or e-mails it receives about tax credits.