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Rating Reform

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his best estimate of the total annual amount of central Government support, assuming 1987–88 budgeted expenditure, that would be required to pay for rebates on the proposed commmunity charge.

The cost of rate rebates is estimated, on the basis of assumptions underlying the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, to amount to £1,370 million in Great Britain next year. As indicated in the financial memorandum to the Local Government Finance Bill, the estimated additional cost of community charge rebates in England and Wales is £130 million. This estimate is, however, sensitive to factors such as changes in the number of claimants, the level of the community charge, and the precise details of the rebates, which have not yet been determined.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies he has commissioned into the feasibility of a banded community charge; and if he will publish them.

[holding answer 7 December 1987]: A banded community charge is a local income tax rather than a community charge. In addition to all the disadvantages of LIT, a banded community charge would uniquely have major "earnings trap" effects, whereby a person whose income rose by £1 could find his bill increasing by as much as £400.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what maximum payment of community charge including community water charge would have been payable by pensioners on basic retirement pension income, in the current financial year, for each local authority area; and if he will express each sum payable as a percentage of the total community charge in that area.

[holding answer 4 December 1987]: Water is not a local government service in England. On the basis of the 1988–89 social security arrangements, all pensioners wholly reliant on a state pension would pay only 20 per cent. of the full community charge levied by their local authority and would receive help towards that 20 per cent. through income support.