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Student Loans

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will change the rules governing entitlement to working families tax credit so that student loans are not counted as income. [34866]

Dawn Primarolo: We have no plans to disregard completely student loans within working families tax credit.

Tax Credits Bill

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the administrative cost of the transfer of functions to the Treasury and the Inland Revenue under the provisions of clauses 45 and 46 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35181]

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Dawn Primarolo: The transfer of child benefit to the Inland Revenue will provide parents with a more streamlined system of support, by ensuring child benefit and the new child tax credit are run by a single organisation.

There will be only minor changes in child benefit rules when responsibility moves to the Inland Revenue and existing staff and IT systems will be transferred. We anticipate that the administrative costs of transfer will be minimal.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what plans he has to keep a record of the persons falling within the provisions of subparagraph 2(b) of paragraph 9 of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill who may be supplied with information relating to tax credits, child benefit or guardian's allowance for health; and if he plans to make the record publicly available; [35179]

Dawn Primarolo: The provisions of paragraph 9 of Schedule 5 will allow the Inland Revenue to provide information to the Department of Health and equivalent Departments within Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and persons providing services to those departments to enable them to carry out the functions specified in the Tax Credits Bill. Information will be provided to assist them in identifying families on low income who are entitled to free access to certain health services.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what factors underlay the decision to transfer the functions of the Department for Work and Pensions in respect of child benefit and guardian's allowance to the Treasury under clause 45 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35185]

Dawn Primarolo: The Prime Minister announced in June last year the transfer to the Treasury and Inland Revenue of responsibility for child benefit and guardian's allowance, after careful consideration of the best way to administer support for children when the new tax credit for families with children is introduced.

We believe that parents will get the best service if a single organisation administers child benefit and guardian's allowance alongside the child tax credit. The Social Security Select Committee supported this view in their second report on the integrated child credit published on 22 March 2001

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of paragraph 2 of Schedule 4 of the Tax Credits Bill (as amended) on the amount of overpaid child benefit and guardian's allowance which is recovered. [35169]

Dawn Primarolo: The power to recover overpayments of child benefit by deduction from other benefits is used in only a small minority of cases. It is estimated that removing this power will have a minimal effect on recoveries of overpaid child benefit.

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Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effects of the provisions of (a) Clause 52 and (b) Clause 53 of the Tax Credits Bill on the number of persons receiving child benefit. [35168]

Dawn Primarolo: The current estimate is that the numbers affected by these provisions will be minimal.

The purpose of these changes is to make some minor adjustments to the rules on entitlement to child benefit, in order to align the rules with those proposed for child tax credit.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to consult (a) employers and (b) other interested parties on the issuing of notices by the Board of the Inland Revenue under Clause 42 of the Tax Credits Bill (as amended). [35172]

Dawn Primarolo: Informal consultation with employers and other groups is continuing on a range of points relating to the introduction of the new tax credits, including the issue of notices by the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he expects the provisions of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill to be used in tackling fraud and non-compliance. [35175]

Dawn Primarolo: Yes. Schedule 5 to the Bill enables information provided to, or by, the Inland Revenue to be used to provide a joined-up service to claimants, and to help tackle fraud and non-compliance.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the effects of the transfer of the functions of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions under Section 80 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 to him as a result of subsection (1)(c) of Clause 45 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35171]

Dawn Primarolo: This provision, part of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, provides the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations to offset payments akin to child benefit paid in another member state against child benefit paid for the same child in the UK. The power under the Act is not currently exercised. In common with the other functions relating to policy on entitlement to child benefit, the tax credits Bill transfers the power, which relates solely to child benefit, to the Treasury.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what guidance he plans to give to the Board of the Inland Revenue or any person providing services to it about the use and disclosure of information under the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35176]

Dawn Primarolo: Staff responsible for pooling information under these provisions will have clear instructions and adequate training to ensure that such pooling is within the scope of the provisions, and meets the twin objectives of providing a joined-up service to customers and countering non-compliance.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many staff he expects to be employed by the Treasury in order to discharge the functions transferred to it under Clause 45 of the Tax Credits Bill;

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and how many staff he expects to be transferred to the Treasury from (a) the Department for Work and Pensions and (b) the Northern Ireland Office as a result of Clause 45; [35170]

Dawn Primarolo: Currently around 2,200 staff in the Department for Work and Pensions, Child Benefit Centre in Great Britain and 150 staff in the Department for Social Development, Child Benefit Office in Northern Ireland work on the administration of child benefit. To ensure that their expertise is not lost on the transfer of responsibilities, these staff will move to the Inland Revenue.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans the Inland Revenue has for training those who will discharge the appellate functions transferred to it under the provisions of Clause 46 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35182]

Dawn Primarolo: The Tax Credits Bill transfers responsibility for the administration of child benefit to the Board of Inland Revenue. However, child benefit will remain a social security benefit and any appeals relating to child benefit decisions will continue to be heard under the existing arrangements—in the first instance, by the Appeals Service.

The Government will, of course, ensure that members of appeal tribunals continue to receive training to allow them to discharge their responsibilities appropriately.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to make regulations under Clause 54 of the Tax Credits Bill in relation to the carrying out of functions relating to tax credit, child benefit and guardian's allowance by job centre staff other than those in a Jobcentre Plus. [35166]

Dawn Primarolo: My officials are working closely with those in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland to ensure that any regulations to be made under clause 54 of the Tax Credits Bill will allow all appropriate staff, regardless of the administrative framework within which they work, to carry out specified functions relating to tax credits, child benefit and guardian's allowance.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the IT systems of (a) the Inland Revenue, (b) the Department for Work and Pensions and (c) the Northern Ireland Office concerned in the use of information under the provisions of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill. [35174]

Dawn Primarolo: The relevant Departments are already working to ensure that information can be exchanged as necessary between their respective IT systems.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to keep a record of persons falling within the provisions of sub-paragraph (2) of

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paragraph 10 of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill who may be supplied with information relating to tax credits, child benefit or guardian's allowance. [35178]

Dawn Primarolo: The provisions of sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 10 of Schedule 5 will allow the Inland Revenue to provide information held in relation to child benefit to the Department for Education and Skills, and persons providing services to that Department, to enable them to carry out the functions specified in the Bill. This will enable the new 'Connexions Service' to identify and assist young people who need help in finding alternative work, education or training.

The provision replicates a power provided in the Learning and Skills Act 2000.

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to keep a record of persons providing services to the Inland Revenue in connection with the provision of tax credits who fall within the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Schedule 5 of the Tax Credits Bill; and if he plans to make the record publicly available. [35180]

Dawn Primarolo: The provisions about persons providing services to the Inland Revenue enable the Inland Revenue's IT partners to pool information for Inland Revenue purposes in the same way as that information could be pooled if it was held directly by the Inland Revenue itself. Information about major companies providing services to the Inland Revenue, such as its IT partners, is already publicly available.


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