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|(a) Cost of age addition at £2.50||Additional expenditure||(b) Cost of age addition at £5.00||Additional expenditure|
1. Costs are presented in £ million, for Great Britain, in 2008-09 terms, rounded to the nearest £5 million.
2. Additional expenditure is relative to the cost of the current level of age addition£0.25.
Mr. Timms: Selling a tax avoidance scheme is not in itself an offence or a breach of statutory obligations that might trigger an HMRC investigation. However, scheme promoters are required to disclose information to HMRC about schemes falling within certain statutory descriptions. HMRC has investigated or is currently investigating more than 90 promoters suspected of failing to comply with a disclosure obligation.
Mr. Timms: The information is not available. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will put right inaccuracies as they are identified. Information on the level of accuracy of processing tax credits awards can be found in HMRC's Departmental Reports available on its website at
Mr. Swire: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the effect of a single 5 per cent. value added tax rate for all types of construction work on the construction industry. 
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the effect on consumer spending in (a) Cumbria and (b) Copeland constituencies of the reduction in the rate of value added tax to 15 per cent. 
Mr. Timms: The economic forecast made in the pre-Budget report, based on realistic assumptions, assumed that, over time, the majority of the reduction in VAT will be passed on to consumers through lower prices, and that households will spend around half of the increase in real disposable income that results. Overall, GDP growth in 2009 is forecast to be around half a percentage point higher than it would be in the absence of the discretionary action that the Government have taken. A regional breakdown has not been made.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the Cumbrian economy of the reduction in the rate of value added tax to 15 per cent. 
Mr. Timms: The economic forecast made in the pre-Budget report, based on realistic assumptions, assumed that, over time, the majority of the reduction in VAT will be passed on to consumers through lower prices, and that households will spend around half of the increase in real disposable income that results. Overall, GDP growth in 2009 is forecast to be around half a percentage point higher than it would be in the absence of the discretionary action that the Government have taken. A separate assessment of the effect on the Cumbrian economy has not been made.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in discussions at EU level on reducing the rate of value added tax on energy-efficient products and energy-saving materials in the EU. 
Mr. Timms: The European Commission announced in the European Economic Recovery Plan (COM (2008) 800) that it plans to bring forward a legislative proposal to allow reduced VAT rates for green products and services, aimed at improving in particular (the) energy efficiency of buildings. The Commission is expected to adopt this legislative proposal in the coming months, at which point European Council discussions of the proposal will begin.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make it his policy that the liability for value added tax in respect of construction projects should be the same for (a) maintained schools and (b) further education institutions. 
The only exceptions are those projects which involve the construction of buildings intended for use by a charity solely for a non-business purpose. In such circumstances, the projects are liable to VAT at the zero rate.
However, local authorities can usually reclaim from HMRC all VAT costs relating to the educational institutions that they maintain. These refund arrangements for local authorities reflect a commitment made when VAT was
first introduced that VAT would not fall as a burden on local taxation. Since 1997, bodies other than local authorities have been admitted to these refund arrangements where they undertake a function ordinarily carried on by local government and have the power to draw their funding directly from local taxation. Unlike local authority maintained institutions, further education institutions do not meet the second of these conditions.
Bids for public funding by further education institutions are therefore expected to take into account that they are not eligible for the VAT refund arrangements that apply for local authority maintained institutions.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of companies which have not passed on the recent reduction in value added tax to 15 per cent. to customers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Timms: The Office for National Statistics published statistics on UK inflation in December on 20 January 2009 including detail on the pass-on rate of the temporary VAT reduction, and found that most businesses had passed on the reduction. The ONS report can be found at:
Mr. Timms: Estimates of the number of families with tax credit awards, including information on overpayments by local authority, based on final family circumstances and incomes, for the years 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 are available in the HMRC publications "Child and Working Tax Credits Statistics. Finalised Annual Awards. Supplement on Payments. Geographical Analyses", for each relevant year. These publications are available on the HMRC website at:
Simon Hughes: To ask the Solicitor-General how many Crown Prosecution Service prosecutions have been discontinued as a result of prosecution witnesses being unwilling to give evidence in each of the last three years; and if she will make a statement. 
The Solicitor-General: The following table shows the number of defendants whose case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) before evidence was heard in magistrates and Crown courts in each of the last three years. The reasons for these decisions are divided into evidential reasons, public interest reasons, cases that were unable to proceed, and other reasons. Further explanation of each division is illustrated, including cases that were dropped because a victim or witness refused to give evidence.
The number of cases that were dropped because a victim refused to give evidence fell from a total of 8,785 in 2006 to 5,991 in 2008 or, in proportional terms, from 0.8 per cent. of completed cases to 0.6 per cent. The number of cases dropped because other witnesses refused to give evidence fell over the same period from 1,097 (0.1 per cent. of completed cases) to 725 (0.1 per cent.). These improvements illustrate the growing success of a number of initiatives which aim to provide vulnerable and intimidated victims and witnesses with more effective support. These include special measures allowing evidence to be given, for example, from behind screens or via live video links. The Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims Code) sets out the standards of service which victims can expect of the Criminal Justice System. These commitments are reinforced by the CPS Public Policy Statement on the Delivery of Services to Victims (the Prosecutors Pledge), launched by the Attorney-General in October 2005, which sets out the level of service that victims can expect of prosecutors. Police and CPS Witness Care Units (WCU) now provide an enhanced level of service to victims and witnesses in cases where charges have been brought, and procedures have been put in place to measure and respond to witness satisfaction through the Witness and Victim Experience Survey.
|Crown Prosecution Service prosecutions dropped|
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