I think that the position can be fairly summed up by saying that it would very much prefer not to have had the 10 per cent., but, if COSLA had to have it, it reckoned that that was the right figure to use. I think that that is a fair description.
The object of the exercise is clear. We are in transition between two different types of system, and this is one way of compensating local authorities and at the same time preserving the Exchequer position at a time when we have withdrawn detailed controls over projects. I think that that was welcomed by COSLA and generally. By this time next year, I hope that we shall have moved to a better system. In the meantime this is, broadly speaking, fair to all concerned.
The loan charges consist of debt redemption—or repayments to loan funds—and interest charges. The rate of debt redemption has been based on a historic rate and interest charges are based on an assumption about the average outturn local authority pool rate for 1980–81. The other main area of spending is on the management and maintenance of houses. Although an allowance has been made for the estimated rate of inflation, in the current financial climate I consider that in real terms expenditure under this head should remain unchanged. Desirable as some people might think it to be to do so, we simply cannot afford at this time to devote even greater resources than in the past to the management and maintenance of local authority houses, although I had hoped to maintain the level at least at the previous rate.