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Rating Reform

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 15 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations have taken place regarding the payment of local government taxation by central Government Departments after a national non-domestic rate has been introduced; and when he expects to announce a decision.

We anticipate that contributions in aid of rates in respect of Crown property should continue to be paid broadly as at present, at the national non-domestic rate poundage. Consultations with local authority associations have proceeded on that assumption.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the numbers of 18 to 25-year-olds gaining and losing given amounts, in pound sterling per week, with the full replacement of rates by community charge, on a similar basis to table J.8 in Cmnd. 9714, but based on individuals rather than tax units.

It is not possible to make these comparisons on an individual rather than on a householder tax unit basis. The family expenditure survey, on which our estimates are based, collects information for tax units and households only and the rate rebate system similarly calculates entitlements on a tax unit basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, pursuant to his answer of 16 November, Official Report, column 420, the income after tax of £75 per week referred to in his answer includes state benefit.

Yes. For a full explanation I refer the hon. Member to page 103 of the Green Paper "Paying for Local Government" (Cmnd. 9714).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give an estimate of the community charge for 1988–89 for the borough of Thamesdown equivalent to the rate-cap limit of £51·10p, announced on 9 December.

It is necessary to have information about the spending of all local authorities in an area before community charge figures can be produced. We shall be able to calculate illustrative figures for 1988–89 next spring when information on budgeted expenditure for all authorities is available.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps, in the light of the information given in the answer of 12 November to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) on the difference between the contribution to local taxation of the highest and lowest paid, Official Report, column 190, to correct the figure given in his publication "Paying For Local Government."

No. Both figures are correct. Under the new system, the 10 per cent. of households with the highest net incomes would pay six times as much in community charges, after rebate, as the 10 per cent. of households with the lowest net incomes; in all, they would pay 16 times as much towards the cost of local services, including contributions via the grant system from national taxation.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will list the changes made by the Government in their proposals for a community charge to replace domestic rates between 11 June and the First Reading of the Local Government Finance Bill.

Since 11 June we have announced new transitional arrangements and a special measure to protect the confidentiality of battered wives' and political refugees addresses. There have been no major changes to the community charge policy.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make it his policy that those who will be entitled to 80 per cent. rebates of the proposed community charge will receive comparable rebates for their water rates.

No. Assistance towards water charges will be subsumed in the basic personal rates of the new income support structure to be introduced next year.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will estimate (a) the average community charge payment for Britain as a whole and (b) the average water charge payment or water rate payment.

[holding answer 14 December 1987]: In 1987–88 I have estimated that the average community charge in England would have been £224. The average household bill for water and sewerage is estimated to be £97. The figures for Scotland and Wales are matters for my right hon. Friends. It is not sensible to average the figure for England and Wales and for Scotland because of differences in the charging structure for water supply and sewerage services.