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Local Government Finance

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates he has made of the percentage of persons listed on community charge registers who will fail to pay the charge in 1990–91 for English shire counties; and what guidance he has issued to local authorities as to the estimates they should make for default when deciding on the amount of charge to meet their planned expenditure.

The Department has made no estimates of the proportion of charge payers who may fail to pay community charges and sees no need to offer advice on this to charging authorities. We have issued practice notes on steps that charging authorities may take to minimise arrears, and more flexible instalment regimes and improved powers of enforcement should improve authorities' ability to obtain arrears compared with that under the domestic rating system.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the totals of spending in 1990–91 by (a) Somerset county council and (b) Taunton Deane borough council assumed for the purposes of his calculations of illustrative combined capital value rates and local income tax published on 6 November 1989.

The assumed spending was the same as that used for the provisional assumed charges also published on 6 November.The assumed spending figures for 1990–91 were:

£ million
Somerset county council222·367
Taunton Deane borough council4·306

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East on 6 February, Official Report, columns 582–83, if he will list all departmental circulars, excluding practice notes, issued by his Department in connection with the community charge, giving in each case, the date of issue and an outline of the contents; and if he will indicate whether copies of such have been placed in the Library.

[holding answer 13 February 1990]: No numbered departmental circulars have been issued about the community charge. A number of letters have been sent to all charging authorities. These are as follows:

Date of issueContents
25 JulyCommunity charge costs: Price Waterhouse study
5 AugustLocal Government Finance Act
15 DecemberCommunity charge regulations: Valuation and Community Charge Tribunals
16 DecemberCommunity charge preparation costs
31 JanuaryCommunity charge students regulations
31 JanuaryImplementation of the community charge
28 FebruaryCommunity charge implementation and minority language translations
17 MarchImplementation of rates reform
3 MayImplementation of the community charge and NNDR: questionnaire
5 MayLeaflet: "The community charge (the so-called Poll Tax): how it will work for you"
5 MayPayment of specific grant for community charge
10 MayUnited Kingdom service personnel
10 AugustCommunity charge registration and data protection
18 SeptemberAmendments to practice notes
11 OctoberSafety net and transitional relief
13 OctoberPayment of specific grant for community charge preparation
20 OctoberCommunity charge transitional relief
20 OctoberCommunity charge bill
26 OctoberAmendments to practice notes
3 NovemberExemption for those severely mentally impaired
9 NovemberCommunity charge transitional relief
16 NovemberLocal Government and Housing Act 1989: amendments to Local Government Finance Act
22 NovemberTransitional relief scheme—details
15 DecemberCommunity charge bill—details
28 DecemberCommunity charge: amendments to practice notes
10 JanuaryCommunity charge transitional relief regulations
9 FebruaryDesignation of Ministry of Defence Establishments

Details of those letters amending practice notes are placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will provide comparable figures to his November estimate of the amount of poll tax payable in 1990–91 per adult as against rates for each region and each metropolitan area and county council.

The information requested has been placed in the Library. The figures are consistent with the assumed charges published on 11 January.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria he proposes to use to charge-cap those authorities whose proposed community charge is unacceptably high; and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol North-West (Mr. Stern) on 17 January, Official Report, columns 252–3.