HC Deb 29 June 1994 vol 245 cc579-80W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what amount, above projected costs, it has cost to construct the value added tax office in Liverpool; what occupancy was originally planned for the building; how many staff are actually based there; how many and which staff commute from London to work in the office; who pays their travel costs; what is the total; how long they have been sustained; and if he will make a statement.

Sir John Cope

In October 1990 independent quantity surveyors estimated the construction costs of the VAT headquarters building in Liverpool at £25. 1 million. The estimate was based on a sketch design and was at October 1990 prices. This price excludes land, professional fees, fixtures and fittings, furniture and VAT.

The main part of the final account for the construction has not yet been agreed by the contractor but the Department's project cost control quantity surveyors have prepared draft final accounts and advise that the construction costs will be within the estimate. Exact figures cannot, at this stage, be given for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

The planned occupancy specified in the building brief prepared by Customs and Excise was 1,775.

Currently there are 752 staff based in the building. A further 39 posts are scheduled to be relocated from Southend by December 1994, but much of the work involved will be absorbed by existing staff who would otherwise be surplus. Four hundred and ninety Customs regional HQ and operational staff will move into the building in September 1994. This creates a need to provide space for facilities for public callers, VAT traders and shipping agents from September 1994.

The space not required by Customs has been re-allocated to the Charity Commission by Property Holdings, the managers of the Government's estate. The

Contracts let with the following companies: Coopers and Lybrand, KPMG Peat Marwick, Ernst and Young, Price Waterhouse and Touche Ross, during 1991–92 and 1992–93 were as follows:

Charity Commission intends to move 236 staff into the building in November 1994. There are no staff who commute from London to work in the office.