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Rate Support Grant

Volume 987: debated on Thursday 3 July 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider revising the method of calculating further levels of rate support grant to avoid a situation where, as has occurred with Rugby, if the authority does not spend its full budget amount in a particular year, shortfall is automatically taken out of the base amount for two years later, such as occurred with Rugby between 1978–79 and 1980–81; and if he will ensure that the situation is remedied for Rugby in the rate support grant allocation for 1981–82.

The total of local authority current expenditure envisaged in rate support grant settlements reflects the latest available information on authorities' actual expenditure. The grant is distributed in accordance with general principles and any budget shortfall for an individual authority should not affect its grant entitlement in future years. However, if my hon. Friend has a more specific point in mind perhaps he would write to me.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether, in form RER 81A issued to local authori- ties, note 6(a) means that the effect of increases in fees and chargs for a council's services due to be implemented after November 1979 are not included in the service headings in lines one to four of RER 81 but are included in the inflation provision in line five; and whether the anticipated income from building regulation fees is similarly improved and the inflation provision adjusted accordingly;(2) if he will take steps to redraft forms RER 81A and RER 81B to ensure that ambiguities in the text are removed.

Form RER 81A follows the same format and definitions as were used for form RER 81, which was agreed with representatives from the local authority associations and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which advised that it followed as closely as possible the budgetary practices adopted by the majority of local authorities. However, some local authorities have raised questions about the treatment of certain items of expenditure and income, including the treatment of income from fees and charges, and a further letter will be sent to local authorities next week to clarify these points.