Local Government Finance (Hansard, 3 December 1990)
HC Deb 03 December 1990 vol 182 cc22-3W
Mr. Blunkett

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will undertake an immediate and fundamental review of the poll tax.

Mr. Portillo

We shall shortly start a careful review of the community charge.

Mr. Speller

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received regarding delays in the processing of community charge and benefit payments within the North Devon district council area; and if he will offer assistance with clearing the backlog.

Mr. Key

I have received a number of representations. It is the responsibility of each charging authority to ensure the effective administration of the community charge. However, in order to assist charging authorities in the introduction of the community charge, the Government made provision of £110 million for expenditure on implementation in the rate support grant settlement for 1989–90. £55 million of this was supported by way of specific grant; the rest formed part of block grant. For 1990–91 we have taken account of the cost to charging authorities of collecting the community charge in the other services block standard spending assessment, and the cost is therefore being supported through the revenue support grant settlement.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much national non-domestic rate has been collected; and how much has been(a) distributed to local councils and (b) retained within the Treasury.

Mr. Key

The amount of national non-domestic rates due to be paid into the central pool for England in 1990–91 by local authorities, by ratepayers on the central list and through Crown contributions in lieu of rates is £10,743.5 million. This is £315 million more than the amount paid to authorities in 1990–91 in the distributable amount of national non-domestic rates (£10,428.5 million).

The arrangements for setting the distributable amount ensure that, taking one year with another, local authorities receive in full the amount which is paid into the pool. The proposed distributable amount for 1991–92 of £12,408 million takes full account of the £385 million by which the yield of non-domestic rates during 1990–91 is likely to exceed the distributable amount for 1990–91. This comprises the £315 million surplus paid into the pool during 1990–91 and an estimated £70 million which is the net payment that local authorities are expected to make to the pool in autumn 1991 after adjustments to reflect the amount of rates actually collectable from businesses in 1990–91.

Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by how much Government grant to local authorities would have to rise to prevent any wage bill-related rise in the 1991 poll tax bills, using his Department's assumption of rising wage costs; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key

My Department has made no particular assumption about rising pay costs in 1991. However, the amount of external financial support to be distributed to local authorities in 1991–92 will be 12.8 per cent. higher than in 1990–91.

Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will now announce the terms and timescale of his review of the poll tax;

(2) whether he will immediately exempt those on the lowest incomes from the liability for 20 per cent. of the poll tax; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will now abolish the poll tax;

(4) whether his review of the poll tax will include measures to relate the tax to the ability to pay; and if he will make a statement;

(5) whether his review of the poll tax will include measures to relate the tax directly to income; and if he will make a statement;

(6) whether he now intends to end the double charge of poll tax and the unified business rate on those small businesses where the owner lives on the premises; and if he will make a statement;

(7) whether his review of the poll tax will be cash limited; and if he will make a statement;

(8) whether his review of the poll tax will encompass any transfer of services currently funded and controlled at local authority level to central Government; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Key

My right hon. Friend is just starting a careful review of the community charge. It is premature to speculate on what possibilities he might look at in detail, or when any changes might take effect.

Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those local authorities who have commenced court proceedings to seek liability orders against those who have not paid the poll tax at the latest available date; and what proportion this is of the total number of authorities.

Mr. Key

The Department does not have this information.

Mr. Nellist

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now seek to repeal that section of the poll tax legislation covering the capping of local authority budgets; and if he will make a statement.

Forward to
GLOBAL ISLES COURT OF RECORD