HC Deb 06 April 1981 vol 2 cc185-6W
Mr. Eggar

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the position regarding repayments of value added tax to the trading community in view of the strike of computer—(data processing)—staff at the Customs and Excise computer centre in Southend; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Rees

I regret that, because of this strike, it has not been possible to continue making repayments of value added tax. The size of the operation, about 10,000 repayments claims a day received in random order, rules out any question of making the repayments manually, even on a selective basis. Nor is there any valid means of distinguishing between claims in order, for example, to deal separately with claims from a particular class of trader of those where hardship exists. Once the industrial action is over, Customs and Excise will do all it can to see that repayments are resumed as quickly as possible.

However, although value added tax is distinct from income tax and national insurance contributions collected under pay-as-you-earn arrangments, collectors of taxes will have regard to difficulties facing businesses because repayments of VAT are being delayed. They will not take precipitate action to collect pay-as-you-earn payments falling due where there is a genuine temporary difficulty about paying in cases of this kind. Futhermore, in order to ease the cash flow problems of retail chemists, arrangements are being made where necessary for an enhanced payment on account of the amounts due to be paid to them in respect of National Health Service dispensing.