HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc225-6
8. Dr. David Owen

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will seek to amend the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 so as to allow exemption from rates for any change in amenities designed to alleviate a physical disability of the householder or his dependants.

17. Mr. Evelyn King

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will seek power to provide that, where the occupier of a house becomes paralysed or loses the use of his legs and has on that account to instal a lift or garage for a disabled person's car, or other essential apparatus, the property shall not be charged additional rates so long as it is occupied by the disabled person.

Mr. MacColl

Alterations to a house can only attract additional rates if they add to its letting value. In addition, the law already requires valuation officers to disregard the value of garages and other structures which cater for the special needs of the disabled. My right hon. Friend is not aware that anything further is needed.

Dr. Owen

Is my hon. Friend aware that disabled people who install downstairs lavatories or bathrooms—vital necessities—have to answer for it by paying extra rates? Surely, this is an anomaly which, like that of garages, needs to be corrected?

Mr. MacColl

The difficulty is that that is a conversion within the premises, which is more difficult to single out than is an extra structure, though in cases of difficulty it has always been possible to apply to the valuation officer for exemption.

Mr. King

Is the Minister aware that reports of a number of cases in the last few weeks do not bear out what he says? Will he look into those cases? Is it not a fact that it is the duty of any civilised community not further to penalise those who are disabled already, who bear such a burden but who seek to be self-reliant?

Mr. MacColl

I know of only one case that has attracted some publicity, and I understand that there the valuation officer has revisited the premises and is reconsidering a possible change of valuation. On the whole, our experience has been that there are not many cases, but if the hon. Gentleman has any case to which he wishes to draw my attention, I shall, of course, be very pleased to look into it.

Mrs. Knight

Does not my hon. Friend recognise that any conversion makes a house more valuable for letting purposes, so that the Answer he gave a few moments ago was slightly misleading?

Mr. MacColl

The Answer expressed the position as it is, which is that things like a ramp or wider doors may reduce rateable value.

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