HC Deb 13 January 1971 vol 809 cc49-51
21. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the total amount granted in rate rebates, and the number of rate rebates granted in the financial year ended 14th May, 1970 in the county of Fife and in Kirkcaldy, respectively.

Mr. Younger

As the Answer contains a number of figures I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Gourlay

Is the Minister aware that there are many anomalies in administration, particularly in regard to the rate rebate scheme, as between different local authorities in Scotland? Would he consider issuing a standard

Amount of rate rebate 1969–70 Number of recipients 1969–70
1st period 2nd period Total 1st period 2nd period
£ £ £
Fife (all authorities) 49,406 49,504 98,910 6,380 6,381
Fife (landward area) 9,902 9,679 19,581 1,602 1,542
Kirkcaldy 11,963 11,695 23,658 1,252 1,228
25. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many ratepayers claimed rebates during the past year on grounds of financial hardship; and what is the average amount granted to each.

Mr. Younger

In 1969–70 rate rebate was granted to about 90,800 domestic

application form for rate rebates? In view of the present rapid rate of inflation, would he now indicate when he proposes to raise the income level at which maximum rebates are payable?

Mr. Younger

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the income level for rate rebate was raised fairly recently by the previous Government. In regard to anomalies between areas, I have had no representations that this is so; but if the hon. Gentleman has any specific cases which he would like to raise with me, I shall be happy to look at them.

Mr. John Smith

Would the Minister consider issuing a circular to local authorities asking them to deal with the matter of rate rebate and rent rebate at the same time when application for assistance is made, since many people find it difficult to distinguish between rents and rates? Is not the situation of the poor at present quite ridiculous when one considers the number of applications which they have to make to a myriad of authorities?

Mr. Younger

I am sympathetic to the hon. Gentleman's point, but it is necessary at present for these matters to be dealt with separately since rent rebate and rate rebate apply to different categories of people and tenants. I hope, however, that when the Government's new housing policy comes into effect, there will be less difference between the categories involved and that at that time it may be possible to amalgamate some of the administration.

Following is the information:

ratepayers for the first half-year and to about 91,600 for the second half-year. The average rebate for each half year was £9 14s.

Mr. Galbraith

As the amount of the rebate is relatively small, though welcome, and in view of the acute hardship which rate increases cause old folk living on small fixed incomes, would my hon. Friend consider making a general rebate to all pensioners?

Mr. Younger

That would be quite a different question and would have to be considered in the course of a general review of social services. As for the effect on ratepayers generally of the increased costs of local authority work, this is one of the reasons, I think, why the previous Administration introduced the rate rebate scheme.