Oral Answers to Questions — Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th March 1963.
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs whether he is aware that the proposed new rate poundage for the borough of Hove is equivalent to an increase of 4s., and that many residents will have a rate demand exceeding 50 per cent. of last year's rates; and whether, in view of the fact that this is due to the increased demand for education from the East Sussex County Council, he will remove part of the cost of education from the rates to the Exchequer, or give consideration to increasing the block grant to the county.
I understand that the council has been recommended to make a rate of 9s. in the £ for 1963–64 which is equivalent, on the basis of 1962–63 values, to an increase of 4s. on the present rate of 20s. Allowing for the effects of the revaluation, Hove householders will pay on average about one-third more in rates next year than this.
As regards the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to Questions last Thursday. The estimated increase in the county council's expenditure on education is in fact far less, even ignoring its substantial increase in general grant, than the increase in the total amount which it requires in rates.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the present situation on rating in my constituency has caused grave bitterness and resentment; that he is being held to account for this; and that unless some positive action is taken by the Government they will find themselves in considerable difficulty?
Yes, Sir, but I think that ratepayers are fair enough to recognise that the greatly expanded programme of education, health, and welfare being undertaken by the Government, with public approbation, has its effect on local rates. The point is that the taxpayer is already bearing more than half the cost of this, and I hope that my hon. Friend will bear this in mind.
When the Rating and Valuation Bill was going through the House, did not the Government undertake that, if it appeared that ratepayers were going to pay about 30 per cent. more than they were paying, the Government would use the special powers in the Bill to cushion them against this?
The hon. Gentleman is generally more precise than that. What the Government undertook to do was to consider using their derating powers when the rise in the share of the burden on domestic ratepayers in a county or county borough as a whole exceeded, on account of revaluation alone—but not on account of increased rate call—about one-third. That has not happened in any county or county borough.
Will the Minister study the results of some of the reassessments in London boroughs? If he does so he will find that in many cases there has been a 100 per cent. increase in rateable value, and that the appropriate increase in poundage will have the effect of more than doubling the payment that has to be made by ratepayers. Has not he powers under the Act to make a reduction in the rateable value—I believe that it is up to 20 per cent.—if he thinks fit?
No. The right hon. Gentleman must separate the effect of an increased rate call on the one hand and the effect of revaluation on the other. Generally, where there is a concentration of industry the householder has not suffered an increase in his share of the burden of rates on account of revaluation.