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Valuation Office Agency

Volume 508: debated on Tuesday 6 April 2010

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 2 February 2009, Official Report, column 902W, on the Valuation Office, if he will place in the Library a copy of each of the user guidance and manuals for the Valuation Office Agency's (a) Digital Mapping User Guide, (b) RSA Induction Workbook and (c) Digital Photography User Guide, with information that could assist with unauthorised access redacted. (324323)

The Digital Mapping User Guide, RSA Induction Workbook and Digital Photography User Guide are technical instructions on the operation of Valuation Office Agency (VOA) internal IT applications. It is not appropriate to publish information which might assist unauthorised access to VOA systems or databases. The manuals have been written specifically to provide detail of accessing and operating these applications. Accordingly, it is not possible to redact only specific parts that could assist with unauthorised access.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff (a) there were and (b) were made redundant from the Valuation Office Agency in each year since 1999; what efficiency savings the agency made in each of those years; and how much the agency spent on legal advice in each of those years. (325557)

For the number of staff in the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) (a) I refer the hon. member to the answer given to him on 22 March 2010, Official Report, column 75W and (b) no staff have been made redundant since 1999.

Under the current spending review period the income the VOA receives from its statutory clients has been reducing year on year by at least 5 per cent. per annum, in 2010-11 the current assumptions are that the VOA income will reduce from clients by a range of 5 per cent. to 13 per cent. These savings are counted as efficiency savings for the departments providing funding to the VOA to avoid double counting.

Nevertheless the VOA tracks its efficiency record and using the HM Treasury basis for calculating these the efficiencies delivered in the current spending round are £13.3 million in 2008-09 increasing to a planned £24.0 million in 2009-10 (these figures are cumulative). In addition the VOA has completed the Revaluation 2010 project across England and Wales at no additional costs to the taxpayer whilst maintaining its performance targets creating a further efficiency of £52 million—a total of approximately £76 million.

In addition, as part of its commitment to value for money the VOA has also committed to £15 million savings in the Operational Efficiency programme over the next three years.

The VOA publishes its legal services costs in its annual report and accounts to Parliament and a copy for each financial year is available in the Library. From 2000 an electronic copy is available on the VOA's website at:

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Solicitors advice is provided under a service level agreement, the fee for which is included within the service charge payment to HMRC. Counsel's opinion is obtained for the VOA via HMRC Solicitors and charged back to the agency together with other disbursements such as lodging and hearing fees, and any costs awarded against the VOA.

It is not possible to identify the element purely attributed to legal advice without incurring disproportionate costs.