HC Deb 07 May 1973 vol 856 cc4-5
3. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the average increase in domestic rate demands in Wales in 1973 as compared with 1972.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I regret that this information will not be available until later in the summer.

Sir A. Meyer

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware of a real explosion of anger by people, many of whose rate demands have risen by as much as 50 percent. for property that has not been altered since their last rate demand was received, at a time when they are being told that prices and incomes are frozen? Will he, in conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, urgently explore alternative methods of financing local government expenditure and insist on the utmost economy from local authorities?

Mr. Thomas

Rate support grant for 1973–74 has been increased to a higher figure than ever—over £3,000 million— and it will account for 60 per cent, of local government expenditure. The domestic element, the direct subsidy to domestic ratepayers, has been increased for 1973–74 by about 50 per cent. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in his Budget speech that the Government will be giving additional help to domestic ratepayers facing large increases in their rates owing to revaluation, and my Department sent a circular about it to all Welsh local authorities on 13th March.

Mr. Kinnock

Does not the Secretary of State know, as regards rate demands rising as a result of revaluation, that people would be lucky to get away with an increase of 50 per cent, in their rate bill? Is he aware of the hopelessness and acute difficulty felt by many, especially elderly people, as a result of revaluation? Does he not think it is time that the Government acted directly on this peculiar source of inflation, which will cause real misery?

Mr. Thomas

Revaluation in itself does not involve an increase in the domestic rate. It is both fair and necessary, because, as the hon. Gentleman will know, for political purposes the 1968 revaluation was shelved.

Mr. Cledwyn Hughes

The Secretary of State gave the United Kingdom figure for the increase in the rate support grant. Can he give the Welsh figure?

Mr. Thomas

I could not give the figure without notice, but it would be proportionate.

Forward to