HC Deb 03 April 1990 vol 170 cc1033-65 3.30 pm
The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Chris Patten)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about community charge capping in England.

Local authorities have now set their budgets and charges for 1990–91. Authorities' budgets total £35.8 billion. This is a 16 per cent. increase on 1989–90 and 9 per cent. above the figure for total standard spending of £32.8 billion which we provided in our settlement. Overall, charge payers are being asked to contribute about 30 per cent. more than domestic ratepayers in 1989–90, despite the fact that we increased central support to local authorities by 8.5 per cent.

It is deplorable that local authorities have chosen to budget at these levels, putting an unacceptable burden on local people. There is no justification for the level of charges which many authorities have in practice set. The average charge is £363 in England, ranging from a horrendous £573 in Labour-controlled Haringey to £148 in Conservative-controlled Wandsworth. It is little wonder that strong feelings have been expressed up and down the country about the level of many charges, and I can understand the feelings of outrage of a number of my hon. Friends when faced with the burdens that some authorities have chosen to impose on local people.

The simple fact is that high charges are the direct result of authorities' own budget decisions over the years. In time, I believe that the ballot box will bring greater prudence and realism—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Patten

—to local spending decisions. That is the local accountability which is central to our new system of local government finance.

But Parliament has given me powers in the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to cap those authorities whose budgets are excessive and to require them to reduce their excessive plans. We have always recognised that in the early years of the new system the new accountability pressures would not be fully effective, and there may be a greater need for capping. After having carefully examined all the information available to me about local authorities' budgets, I have to tell the House that I have decided to exercise my capping powers for 1990–91.

Under the 1988 Act I can select authorities for charge capping if, in my opinion, their budgets are either excessive or represent an excessive increase over the previous year. I am not empowered to select any authority whose budget is below the statutory threshold of £15 million. For 1990–91, I have decided to select authorities whose budgets are in my opinion excessive in absolute terms.

Selection of authorities for capping has to be on the basis of general principles—[Laughter.]

Mr Speaker


Mr. Patten

I cannot pick and choose. I can adopt different principles for different classes of authority, but the principles should apply equally to all authorities within the same class. I have decided for 1990–91 to apply the same principles to all the classes of authority in the Act, except that, for inner London boroughs, I have decided to make a special allowance for overspending inherited from the Inner London education authority.

The best measure of the excessiveness of an authority's budget is an assessment of its overspend against its standard spending assessment. That overspend represents the sum by which its budget exceeds the amount that we consider it appropriate for the authority to spend to provide a standard level of service consistent with total standard spending of £32.8 billion. That is similar to the approach that we adopted when selecting authorities for rate capping, when we used the benchmark of overspend against grant-related expenditure.

The principles that I am adopting are as follows. First, for the purposes of capping I judge an authority's budget to be excessive if it exceeds its SSA by at least 12.5 per cent. and by at least £75 per adult. Secondly, an authority is designated for capping only where its overspend per adult above the 12.5 per cent. £75 per adult benchmark for excessiveness is at least £26 per adult. That is a £26 per adult de minimis provision to avoid requiring authorities to reduce their budgets for the sake of only a small reduction in the burden on their charge payers.

The special allowance that I am making for inherited ILEA overspend means that for inner-London boroughs I have deducted from each borough's budget, for the purposes of comparison with the SSA, the amount of its inner London education grant entitlement as set out in the special grant report approved by the House on 18 January —[Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think this a matter for hilarity.

Mr. Patten

By applying those principles to authorities' budgets for 1990–91, I am designating 20 authorities for capping. These are, in alphabetical order: Avon, Barnsley, Basildon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]—Brent—Mort. MEMBERS: "Labour."] That is not very surprising—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind the House that we have a busy day ahead of us. This is a long statement with a great deal of detail. I ask the House to listen to it.

Mr. Patten

I will tell Opposition Members why it is not very surprising: I would have almost to reach No. 60 before I came to a Conservative authority. In alphabetical order, the authorities are: Avon, Barnsley, Basildon, Brent, Bristol, Calderdale, Camden—

Hon. Members

We cannot hear!

Mr. Speaker

Order. How can the House possibly hear what is going on—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Sit down, please. I ask the House to give the Secretary of State a hearing. When there is so much baying going on, how can anyone hear?

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When the Secretary of State read out the list for the first time, he did not read out the word Barnsley. When he read it the second time, Barnsley was included.

Mr. Speaker

Order. So much baying was going on that the list was difficult for any hon. Member to hear. I suggest that, for the good order of the House, the Secretary of State should read out the list of local authorities again. I ask the House to listen to him in silence.

Mr. Patten

I shall give the House the list again: Avon —[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Barnsley—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Basildon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Brent—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Bristol—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Calderdale—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Camden—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Derbyshire—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Doncaster—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Greenwich—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Hammersmith and Fulham —[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Haringey—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Hillingdon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Islington—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; North Tyneside— [HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Rochdale [HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Rotherham—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; St. Helens—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; Southwark—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."]; and Wigan—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."].

Mr. Speaker

Order. I ask the House to settle down. I must say again that we are under a timetable today and this is a long statement.

Mr. Patten

All those authorities are budgeting significantly in excess of their SSAs, both relative to the SSAs themselves and in terms of pounds per adult. For the information of the House, I am laying in the Library tables showing for all authorities how their budgets compare with their SSAs. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

I am not today designating Lambeth. That must give a great deal of pleasure to the Opposition. That council set a budget of over £305 million early in March. I understand that last Thursday, about three weeks after making that budget, it changed its mind, and set a new lower budget and a charge of £548. Under the statute, the council has seven days from then to supply me with the information that I need to take my decisions in relation to that authority. To date, it has not done so. When I receive the information, I shall apply the principles that I have determined for inner London boroughs to Lambeth's budget. If its budget is more than £284.2 million, on this basis, Lambeth would be capped.

Some of the overspends are spectacular by any standards. For Basildon, for example, it is 194 per cent. and £154 per adult above SSA. For Greenwich, it is 32 per cent. and £314 per adult above SSA, even after allowing for inner London education grant.

For each of the 20 authorities designated on the basis of my general principles, I am also proposing caps—that is, the levels to which we propose authorities should reduce their budgets. I have made available in the Vote Office and shall be printing in the Official Report a table showing for each designated authority the cap that I am proposing and the budget cuts implied by it. In each case, I am satisfied on the basis of all the information available to me that my proposals are reasonable and appropriate in all the circumstances of the individual authorities concerned. The reductions in the charge which would be implied by the caps range from around £100 in the case of Hammersmith and Fulham to about £30 in the case of St. Helens.

As required by statute, I am today notifying each authority that it has been designated for capping, the principles on the basis of which it has been designated and the amount of the cap that I propose. The authorities then have 28 days in which to tell me, if they wish, whether they accept the amount proposed. If they do not, they must suggest an alternative figure together with the reasons for it. In such circumstances, it is open to me to set the final cap at a higher, lower or, indeed, the same level as the one I proposed. If an authority does not accept my proposed cap, I have to set the cap by order, a draft of which must be approved by the House.

Once the final caps have been set, the authorities concerned have to set new, lower budgets reflecting their caps. These then feed through to new, lower charges for the charge payer. How long the process takes depends in part on how authorities react to the caps that I am proposing today, but I expect all authorities to have set new budgets by June or July, with new charges for charge payers following as soon as possible thereafter.

I must say this to the House: I would much rather not have had to use my capping powers. But Parliament has provided them to protect the charge payer against excessive spending, and it is clearly right that I should use them. I am satisfied that the authorities that I have selected are in this position and that their budgets should be reduced. My proposals will do just this to the benefit of over 4 million charge payers.

Mr. Bryan Gould (Dagenham)

Does the Secretary of State recognise that his statement is a final admission of the failure of the poll tax? Has he not fatally undermined and discredited the only virtues ever claimed for the poll tax—that it would somehow be simple and would improve accountability? If accountability is the key, why could he not wait for the voters to pass judgment on 3 May?

The right hon. Gentleman's statement means that accountability has gone out of the window; all that we are left with is a search for scapegoats. Is it not a remarkable achievement—not to say a suspect achievement—to have concocted a list that miraculously excludes every single Tory authority? Have not the criteria been carefully, not to say tortuously, selected to produce a predetermined political outcome?

If the object really was to relieve hard-pressed poll tax payers, why are Tory councils such as Dartford and Leominster, in which bills have risen by 73 per cent., not on the list, while Haringey, at only 6 per cent., is included? Why is Tory Windsor and Maidenhead, with a poll tax bill of £449, excluded while Calderdale, at only £297, is caught? Why, if increased spending is the criterion, is Tory Berkshire, with an increase of 20.6 per cent., left out, while Brent, at 1.4 per cent., is on the list?

If the Secretary of State is really concerned to reduce excessively high poll tax bills, why does he not accept that bills right across the country are, on average, £85 above Government estimates; that there is no significant difference between Tory and Labour councils on that score; and that the problem arises from the serious miscalculations made by the Secretary of State, to which charge capping can be only a marginal and partisan response?

What estimate has the right hon. Gentleman made of the extra costs of sending out revised bills and recalculating rebates? What estimate has he made of the losses of income that charge-capped authorities will suffer through the impact on cash flow? What estimate has he made of the cuts that will be needed, not just to meet charge cap levels but to cover the extra costs and losses that charge capping will impose? How does the right hon. Gentleman explain that five authorities—Brent, Calderdale, Hammersmith, Haringey and Hillingdon—have been charge-capped to a point below their assumed charge? Why are councils that contribute to the safety net, such as Brent, Camden, Islington and Basildon, charge-capped, in some cases in circumstances in which they contribute more to the safety net than the margin by which they are charge-capped?

Does the Secretary of State accept that his statement and his charge capping will be universally regarded as a political fix, as a rigged list drawn up in a cynical and desperate last throw to salvage something from the wreckage? Is he not revealing just how disreputable the Government's current aims are? They have given up trying to make the poll tax work. They have given up trying to help the oppressed poll tax payers. Their sole and squalid aim now is to shift the blame for the whole poll tax fiasco for which they alone are responsible.

Mr. Patten

Perhaps in view of the stress that the hon. Gentleman placed on the selection of the criteria, I should take him and the House through the arguments for the criteria. I take it that the House will want me to do so reasonably patiently so that it knows exactly why we chose these criteria—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch:)

Get the fraud squad in.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Secretary of State was asked detailed questions and he must have a chance to answer them.

Mr. Patten

First, we had to take account, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware, of sections 100 to 102 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. Secondly, we had to take account of legal precedents and the way in which rate capping was applied in the past. On that basis, we decided on the criteria that I announced. Just as in the past we used the grant distribution formula—the GRE—as the basis for rate capping, so it seemed perfectly reasonable to take the SSA as the basis for charge capping, since it is expenditure and bills above the SSA which represent excessive spending and charging.

There is a political point—[Laughter]—which the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) would do well to take into account. Labour shire counties are setting precepts about £82 over SSA while Conservative shire counties are setting precepts £25 above SSA. Labour shire districts are setting charges £47 above SSA while Conservative districts are setting charges £8 above SSA. Labour metropolitan districts are setting charges £94 above SSA while Conservative metropolitan districts are setting charges £21 above SSA. Labour London boroughs are setting charges —216 a head above SSA while Conservative boroughs are setting charges £3 above SSA. If the hon. Gentleman seeks an explanation of why there are no Conservative authorities on the list, it is in those figures.

The hon. Gentleman referred to several specific authorities and in doing so showed that he is not very familiar with local government finance. Dartford and Leominster cannot be included in the criteria because they have budgets below £15 million and are specifically excluded by the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

The hon. Gentleman also failed to take account of Conservative authorities that are making contributions into the safety net and Labour authorities that are taking money out of the safety net. That makes rather a lot of difference to the figures that the hon. Gentleman used.

Let me come to costs. We reckon that the costs per authority will be about £200,000 per charging authority and that the total costs will be between £6 million and £7 million for all the authorities that we are charge-capping. I wish that the local authorities that set excessive spending levels had thought about that disruption before they set out on a course that penalises their charge payers.

I shall deal with the principle of accountability, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. On the "Today" programme last week—I am not sure whether the Leader of the Opposition or his hon. Friends are aware of this—the hon. Gentleman said: There must always be in extremis a reserve power to cap. In the hon. Gentleman's view, there is no argument about principle. It is right that there should be a reserve power to cap. What I ask the hon. Gentleman—

Hon. Members

You should be answering.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Hon. Members should not carry on conversations or point, across the Chamber; that is very disorderly.

Mr. Patten

I take it that Opposition Members do not want me to make this point, because they have no answer to it.

What are the circumstances in which the reserve powers would be used? Would they be used in the case of Basildon which has spent 194 per cent. over SSA, or £154 per head? Is that in extremis? Would they be used in Greenwich, which has spent 31.8 per cent. over SSA, which is equivalent to £314 a head? Let the hon. Member for Dagenham tell us that those are circumstances in which he would use those reserve powers.

The hon. Member for Dagenham has once again forgotten that the purpose of my proposals is not to penalise councils, but to protect charge payers.

Mr. Robin Squire (Hornchurch)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be widespread agreement that, in the circumstances of this year, the decision to cap a number of local authorities was inevitable and correct? Does he accept that the decision to limit that to a lower number of authorities than previously circulated is also wise? The response of the Labour party to my right hon. Friend's statement, its derision and humour, will be different from that of people living in the districts and council areas concerned. They will whole-heartedly welcome the relief that he has announced today to many community charge payers.

Mr. Patten

We hear a good deal about the alleged concern of Opposition Members about the impact on the charge payer. I imagine that they will be delighted that my proposals will, for example, help some pensioner households to the tune of £200 in some local authorities.

I accept what my hon. Friend said and I repeat the argument that I advanced earlier. If we had produced a list of nearly 60 local authorities, we might have caught a Conservative one, but the reason why Labour local authorities are on the list is that it is principally Labour local authorities which overspend and set excessive charges.

Mrs. Rosie Barnes (Greenwich)

Bearing in mind the fact that the Government have always maintained that one of the major benefits of the community charge is an increase in local accountability, does the Secretary of State agree that his statement makes a mockery of that, particularly as many of the areas listed will hold elections in the near future when people can make their views known in the usual way?

Mr. Patten

I could not, as I am sure the hon. Lady will accept, have different criteria according to whether some local authorities had elections this year.

I am sure that the hon. Lady will have noticed that her borough of Greenwich is spending 31.8 per cent. over SSA, or £314 per adult. In circumstances in which the Association of London Authorities, a Labour organisation, is suggesting that Labour authorities should discuss whether they can get away with the highest possible charge, I believe that it is reasonable for us to use our powers this year.

Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that his statement is very welcome in Derbyshire? I speak for my hon. Friends the Members for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) and for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) as well. Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in Derbyshire, school meals charges have not been increased since 1981 and home help services are completely free to everyone? Whether that is Labour party policy or not, it is sheer foolishness. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it should be possible to reduce net budgets in Derbyshire without damaging the central services?

Mr. Patten

I believe that my hon. Friend is entirely right in making that argument, and I have chosen the cap for Derbyshire with that very much in mind. I am aware, as is my hon. Friend, that Derbyshire is spending 25 per cent. over SSA or £157 per adult and that is causing considerable expense to my hon. Friend's constituents.

Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)

That statement was the most stupid, irresponsible one that we have ever heard. The Secretary of State may not be aware that the financial year for local authorities has already started. Will he confirm that he has had documentation from every authority on budgetary matters? Will he tell the authorities that he has capped, which schools, teachers and services they will lose?

Mr. Patten

I have no doubt that in the next few weeks there will be a parade of bleeding stumps in a number of local authorities. I believe strongly that the caps that I have proposed will enable local authorities to run their services at a reasonable level. I repeat the point which I made in my statement so that all local authorities and all hon. Members are aware of it: Labour or other authorities which disagree with the cap that I have proposed can, if they wish, make alternative suggestions. I then have to consider them, and we shall come back to the House to debate the issue here.

Mr. David Amess (Basildon)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be widespread rejoicing in my constituency at his decision to cap our charge and give interim protection against the worst excesses of socialist overspending? He is the toast of Basildon. Does my right hon. Friend agree that with the local council being 194 per cent. over standard spending assessment it could easily make savings without affecting essential or sensible local services?

Mr. Patten

The whole House will be aware that Basildon's idea of prudent financing has meant that it has been capped in 1985–86, 1986–87, 1987–88 and 1988–89. Last year, Basildon proposed an increase in local rates of 57 per cent. It is budgeting at 194.3 per cent. over SSA or £154 per adult, which is wholly deplorable.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

It would appear that £10 million is to be taken away From Barnsley. Does the Secretary of State realise that, of that £10 million, £1.8 million is the extra cost of running the poll tax, £3 million is the extra cost of the police and fire services which were not previously there, and £5 million is the extra cost of grants? The local authority now has the choice of sacking teachers or doing away with all non-statutory education facilities. Does the Secretary of State realise that he has stopped the council trying to regenerate an area with 14.1 per cent. unemployment? Does he realise that this despised tax should be disposed of, rather than the people of that area being penalised? Does he realise that not only are the people groaning in despair at the poll tax but that they will now have to suffer the further consequences as the Government try to justify something about which they have made a terrible mistake?

Mr. Patten

I point out to the hon. Gentleman that a large number of his constituents will be pleased that their community charge will be reduced by £60—that is, more than £2 per week—for a pensioner household. Even—

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)

That is wrong—the Secretary of State should do his arithmetic.

Mr. Patten

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will keep quiet. I said that for a pensioner couple it would be more than £2 per week.

Mr. McNamara

The Secretary of State did not say pensioner, he said household.

Mr. Patten

I have not changed what I said, and I think that—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It does not help if we have a dialogue between the Front Bench and Ministers. The Secretary of State is answering questions from a Back-Bench Member.

Mr. Patten

Even with the proposals that I have made, the cap would still mean that Barnsley was spending 17.7 per cent., or £118 per adult, more than SSA. Its original plans would have meant a 19.2 per cent. increase over the resealed GRE—the former formula. It is worth bearing that in mind.

Mr. Michael Stern (Bristol, North-West)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement today will be received with rapture by all my constituents, no matter what their party affiliation? To underline the extent of the relief that he has given to Bristol and Avon, since he has capped two councils that affect my constituency, will he tell the House how much reduction he proposes for the citizens of Bristol and other parts of Avon?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend's constituents will be pleased to know that, as a result of our capping the expenditure proposals of Avon and Bristol, they will save £64: that is—I emphasise the point for the sake of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing)— over £120 for a pensioner couple.

Mr. Ronnie Fearn (Southport)

Is it not a fact that because of this late announcement and the short time that they will have to produce the new billing caused by rate capping, many authorities will face a considerable extra cost on top of the poll tax itself? Many bills have already been drafted and will now have to be altered. Is it not also true that the Conservative Government have underestimated the power of the people and that the power of the people will come back to them at the next election?

Could not the Secretary of State have thought of a better system, such as local income tax based on the ability to pay—a system already proven in Sweden, Canada and other countries? Would not this have been a better system than the present shambles?

Mr. Patten

I think that I answered the question about costs fully in response to the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) when I said that we reckoned that the cost for each charging authority would be about £200,000 and that the total cost for all those which had been capped would be between £6 million and £7 million. That has been taken account of in my proposals on caps.

As for the hon. Gentleman's proposals on local government finance, I applaud him because at least his party has proposals on the future of local government finance; the proposals seem not to have acted like a magnet in attracting people to the party, but I commend the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues for their honesty. I note that we still await with interest and enthusiasm the proposals on local government finance from the official Opposition.

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford)

I congratulate the Secretary of State on his statement. Earlier, the House will have heard the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) refer to Dartford as a Conservative authority which in his view should be charge-capped. I resent his attack upon the people of Dartford. The only person who speaks for Dartford in this House is me. I also point out that there were wrong assumptions in the statement of the hon. Member for Dagenham: his figures are wrong and Dartford, because it falls below the threshold of £15 million, is ineligible for charge capping. I hope that the hon. Member for Dagenham will withdraw his slur on the people of Dartford.

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend has put the record straight. I tried to do so myself in responding to the hon. Member for Dagenham who was unaware, when he put the question, of the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

Is the Secretary of State aware that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) will be £1,331 better off under the poll tax arrangements, even before the new capping arrangements come into force? This is a further windfall for her. Should we not have had something different—not the formula that we now have, which is gobbledegook, but a change in the original formula which messed up the grant in many areas, depending on their nature? If the area was mixed in class terms, if it was both a rural and an urban area, and if it had people moving in and out of it, it lost grant all along the line. That is what affected Derbyshire, not the nonsense talked by the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South.

Mr. Patten

Since, as I understand it, the hon. Gentleman has said that he will not pay the community charge, I am somewhat reluctant to answer his question—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If he carries out his decision, it will mean that, as a militant freeloader, he will oblige his constituents to pay higher bills. That does not seem to me to be very egalitarian, but perhaps it is what passes for socialism these days.

Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the citizens of Hammersmith and Fulham will be extremely grateful for his protection from their gambling, grossly overspending and immensely inefficient council? My right hon. Friend knows that the council has already potentially lost some £200 million on the money markets through its inefficiency. However, he may not know that that has pushed up its expenditure by 80 per cent. since 1986, even allowing for education. It has employed 1,000 additional people in the town hall, and that is before it takes on responsibility for education services. We are extremely grateful for my right hon. Friend's protection, which I trust will continue through future years.

Mr. Patten

I am sure that my hon. Friend's constituents will be pleased that their individual charges will go down by about £100. Even in the Labour party, Hammersmith and Fulham borough council is not a by-word for fiscal prudence. As my hon. Friend suggested, its spending plans were intended to rise by more than 21 per cent. on top of SSA, or £239 per charge payer.

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

Is the Secretary of State aware that the metropolitan borough of Wigan is not a profligate or irresponsible authority? That was acknowledged—it is on the record—by the Under-Secretary of State when I led a delegation to meet him a couple of months ago. The right hon. Gentleman knows that Wigan has already lost £22 million in grant this year and is having a difficult time trying to run its services. Will he acknowledge that the poll tax that it has had to levy is necessary to sustain the level of services for which the councillors were elected? Is he aware that more than 100,000 letters have already been sent, and that the borough treasurer estimates that it will cost at least £500,000 to re-bill poll tax payers in the borough? Will he say—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Briefly, please—

Mr. Stott

Mr. Speaker—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are under a time pressure today.

Mr. Stott

I am aware of that.

Will the Secretary of State answer the question posed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) about authorities that are rate-capped and find it difficult to raise money on the money markets, but have to do so at very high interest rates? Can the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is unfair to the hon. Gentleman's colleagues as I shall not be able to call all of them.

Mr. Stott

I very rarely ask questions in the House—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That does not matter. The hon. Gentleman is on equal footing with everyone else in the House. He must be fair to his colleagues.

Mr. Stott

I shall try to be fair to my colleagues, but I am raising an important matter.

What services in the metropolitan borough of Wigan will have to be cut when the budget is reduced by £10 million? How many teachers, how many housing associations, how many meals-on-wheels, how many social services will have to be cut?

Mr. Patten

I realise why the hon. Gentleman wants to put those points about his constituency so vigorously. However, I must point out to him that, as I understand it, Wigan council had reserves of almost £11.5 million at 1 April, of which it was planning to use £4 million in 1990–91. Against that background, and against some other figures that I shall give to the hon. Gentleman, I do not regard our proposed cap as unreasonable.

Wigan council was proposing to spend 13.1 per cent. over its 1989–90 budget. Our reduction in the charge of around £43 will, I think, be popular with his constituents. The total external finance which is going into Wigan in the coming year is £121.9 million. That represents £527 per adult. I repeat that, against that background, I have put forward proposals which are reasonable. But again I say that, if Wigan council wishes to make proposals for a different cap, we will listen to them and consider them and then we shall have to come back to the House and give it our views.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. In fairness to all, I ask for single questions, please. That will be equally fair to hon. Members on all sides of the House.

Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Hillingdon is not a Labour-controlled council, as Opposition Front-Bench Members seem to think, but a hung council? Will he tell the House by how much that council exceeds its SSA, what that means in terms of each individual and what the cap will be?

Mr. Patten

Hillingdon council was proposing to spend £151 million. That represented 20 per cent. over SSA, or £143 per adult over SSA. We are proposing a reduction of £9.3 million, with a cap, therefore, of £141.7 million. That would mean that charges would go down by around £53 a head.

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

Is the Secretary of State aware that, last May, the people of Derbyshire, who know a great deal more about their own needs that he does, overwhelmingly re-elected the Labour majority there?

Mrs. Currie

And now they are regretting it.

Mr. Benn

And the hon. Lady has benefited greatly by the poll tax, as has been said.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the poll tax, and now the capping, combined with the destruction of the Inner London education authority that began on the morning of 1 April, represent a far greater and more sustained threat to democracy in Britain than what occurred in Whitehall and the west end on Saturday?

Mr. Patten

I think that the right hon. Gentleman's observations and his casuistry on the question whether citizens should obey the law have gone well beyond even his own distant bounds. I think that many people in the House, observing the right hon. Gentleman's career, wish that he had followed the example that he so often suggests and chained himself to railings far distant long ago.

Mr. Phillip Oppenheim (Amber Valley)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that, while the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) may be well able to afford to pay the massive community charge levied by Derbyshire county council, many of my constituents who are above the rebate level are completely unable to pay the charge at the level at which it was to be levied, and that this announcement today that the council is to be charge-capped will give them at least some comfort? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the county council will not have to cut a single teacher or policeman in order to meet these new spending figures?

Mr. Patten

I agree with my hon. Friend that the proposals that I have made should enable the Derbyshire county council to run its services at a reasonable level without disruption, as I said earlier. Derbyshire county council was proposing a 19.5 per cent. increase over its 1989–90 budget. The cap that I have proposed will reduce the community charge by around £56 a head. I think that that will be welcomed by my hon. Friend's constituents and by many other people in Derbyshire.

Mr. Gerald Bermingham (St. Helens, South)

Will the Secretary of State concede that the whole of this capping exercise is on the basis that he got the SSAs correct? If he has made a mistake in that respect, is he prepared to admit that mistake subsequently and undo the damage that he has done today? Secondly, can he explain to the House why in St. Helens, where the overall expenditure this year has risen by only just over 7 per cent.—less than inflation—we should suddenly find that we are to be charge-capped to the tune of £30 a head? Could it just be that the SSAs are completely wrong in St. Helens, and that this whole matter is a complete disgrace?

Mr. Patten

The actual increase in spending in the coming year in St. Helens—

Mr. Bermingham

Answer the question.

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman does not have the figures quite right. The figures are substantially in excess of that—[Horn. MEMBERS: "What are they?"]—16.1 per cent.—[Interruption.] If the St. Helens council has different figures or wishes to appeal against the figures that we have proposed, there is provision in the law for it to do so.

Even if one took not SSAs but GREs, the former system, all the local authorities that we have capped today would have been spending, to take the mean figure for all of them, 26 per cent. above the resealed GREs.

Mr. Donald Thompson (Calder Valley)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that ordinary citizens and businesses and industrial and manufacturing companies will be delighted—[Interruption]—that for the first time, local authorities are having to put up with the same restraints and constraints that those people and businesses have had to put up with through the imposition year after year of rates and community charges well above inflation?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend is wholly correct. Calderdale was planning to spend 20.9 per cent., or £160 per adult, over SSA. It is receiving in total external finance next year £81.9 million, which is £570 per adult. As a result of the decision that I have made today, charges in Calderdale will be cut by £52 or thereabouts.

Mr. Stan Crowther (Rotherham)

Is the Minister aware that the only true criterion by which to judge the expenditure of any local authority is whether it is providing a service that meets the needs of the people it represents? How can the right hon. Gentleman, sitting in his office in Marsham street and drooling over his SSAs, claim to know more about that than the people who have been elected to do the job? It is hypocritical for the right hon. Gentleman to talk in the same statement about the ballot box and accountability and then personally to destroy the most basic principle of democracy.

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman has not taken on board the point that the Labour party has no objection in principle to charge capping—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) said on the "Today" radio programme last week—and he repeated the statement—that the Labour party accepted that there was a case for charge capping. So the only issue is where one charge-caps, and I believe that for the hon. Gentleman's constituency and the other 19 authorities, we have taken a sensible decision, which in his constituency will save charge payers £39 each.

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that the euphoria of many of my hon. Friends whose authorities have been capped will not be reflected in Cleveland, where my long-suffering constituents in Middlesbrough do not meet the criteria—[Interruption.]—which is not surprising, because the whole basis of the SSA is flawed and without any meaning whatever? Until the Government get the SSA right, they will not get capping right. The answer must be not capping but annual elections, so that people vote for the money that is to be spent.

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend has a strong point. If there had been county elections this spring, I do not believe that some county budgets would have been as large as some of them are likely to be. On my hon. Friend's point about SSAs, even under the GREs—had we used the past criteria—I am not sure that we would have caught the overspending in his authority, but I shall let him have a detailed reply on that point.

Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

The Secretary of State will be aware that the poll tax payers of Islington are being forced by him and by the Government to pay £42 each into the so-called safety net. That is more than he is proposing to remove by means of charge capping. What sort of crazy system is it that makes the Secretary of State charge-cap with one hand and force the poll tax up with the other?

Mr. Patten

The safety net contribution results from the fact that the hon. Gentleman's constituents each receive £1,150 in total external finance. That safety net contribution will end at the end of this year. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's constituents will get that money back.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that those local authorities which he has today announced will be charge-capped will have to make some cuts in their budgets? For instance, many of them will have to cut out women's committees; some will have to stop monitoring the police and interfering in what they are doing; many will have to cut the excessive number of staff that they employ; some will have to cut back on waste, and—what is perhaps worse for Opposition Members—some will have to stop giving grants to politically motivated local bodies. If local authorities choose to make cuts in services are they not making a political decision and not a decision in favour of local people?

Mr. Patten

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right and that it will have gratified him, as it did me, that many local authorities will have been able to reduce their budgets without harm to charge payers, thanks to the democratic decision taken in Nicaragua.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

Is the Secretary of State not struck by the double irony that capping breaches the principle of accountability and that there is no evidence from capping in the past that there is any political advantage in it to the Conservative party? Is he aware that, in Lambeth, we already have great difficulties in working out and paying housing benefit and rebates, and that, if demands go up in June, many people will be disqualified from obtaining rebates because they will not realise that it is necessary to apply for them before it is too late? Therefore, will he amend the law to allow rebates to be backdated to 1 April this year?

Mr. Patten

If we had to amend the law to take account of the administrative capacity of Lambeth, we would have to do a lot of legislating. I put forward arguments about Lambeth in my statement. I hope that Lambeth will take advantage of the arguments that I put forward and will now propose a budget that does not require it to be charge-capped.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

While I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's statement, does he not accept that there is one glaring omission—the Labour-controlled district council of Harlow, which happens to be the highest spending council per head in the whole of the United Kingdom? It has been spending ratepayers' money with the gay abandon of a drunken sailor. Is it not a fact that it has reduced the charge to a still staggering £425 by eating into reserves, and selling the family silver? [AN HON. MEMBER: It is not excessive.] Someone says that it is not excessive. It is to my constituents. Is it because Harlow is below the £15 million ceiling, and if that is so, is it not time that the ceiling was reformed so that we could help my constituents and my ratepayers?

Mr. Patten

In Harlow, the budget next year will represent a figure 115.4 per cent. above the SSA, which is £113 a head. I know that my hon. Friend understands and regrets that, since the Harlow budget is under £15 million, we cannot introduce any proposals. Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, I can increase the threshold, but I understand why my hon. Friend wants me to move in the other direction.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

Does the Secretary of State accept that, over the past 11 years, Minister after Minister has visited Rotherham and acknowledged that it is an extremely efficient local authority? It has never been rate-capped or criticised, and despite facing enormous problems, its level of poll tax is about£below the national average. Given the problems confronting Rotherham, which the Secretary of State and many of his colleagues have witnessed over the past five or six years, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that reducing Rotherham's capacity to work its way out of the crisis in which it has been placed by the Government will put it in an impossible position and one which will be seen as preposterous, unfair and, malicious by virtually every reasonable and intelligent citizen of our borough?

Mr. Patten

No. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's observations. I repeat: we are prepared to consider alternative proposals from Rotherham. If Rotherham can make a convincing case, we will take account of it and bring it down to the House of Commons. Even with the proposals I have announced and with the application of the cap, Rotherham will still be spending 13.7 per cent., or £95 per adult, over SSA.

Mr. Speaker

Mrs. Gorman.

Several Hon. Members

What about us?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Lady speaks as the Member of Parliament for a constituency in which an authority is being rate-capped.

Mrs. Teresa Gorman (Billericay)

I thank my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on behalf—[Interruption.]

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Three of them in a row.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Apart from anything else, let us have some chivalry.

Mrs. Gorman

I thank my right hon. Friend on behalf of my constituency for cutting Basildon's expenditure. Among that authority's extravagances in a £27 million budget—[Interruption.]—is a recently built theatre costing £12 million, which will have to be subsidised to the extent of £1 million per year. My constituents will be endlessly grateful to my right hon. Friend for his sensible measures.

Mr. Patten

I am grateful for what I think my hon. Friend the Member for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) said, although I could not hear very much of her remarks. She will be aware that Basildon proposes a 30 per cent. increase in the coming year over its 1989–90 budget. It intends to spend 194 per cent. over SSA, or £154 per adult. That is a powerful argument for the decisions I announced today.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

Is the Secretary of State aware that his reputation as an enlightened Minister has taken an enormous battering this afternoon? His predecessor, the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewksbury (Mr. Ridley), told the House last year, "We will have no more complicated formulae or muddled assessments. Everything will be straightforward, principled, and easy to understand." Can the Secretary of State pretend that that is the case? One week he sets standard spending assessments, the next he poll tax-caps at a different figure. One day he adopts local authority figures according to a principle used for setting rates last year, the next he changes them and implements total arbitrary figures for this year. Southwark's figure has been reduced by a greater amount than any other authority in the country, by £86 per person—even though many other authorities have considerably higher budgets.

Mr. Patten

My right hon. and hon. Friends—like the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes), no doubt—will be interested to learn that Southwark is receiving in external finance, in support through grant and contributions from the business rate, the sum of £173.9 million, which is equivalent to £1,053 per adult. That, put very simply—or in as enlightened a way as I can manage—is a lot of money. There is one very simple formula in Southwark which I think will please many of the hon. Gentleman's constituents: that is, that, thanks to the decisions which I have announced today, they will be saved £86 per head.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

Although, under Labour control, Cleveland county council has always increased its rates considerably in excess of inflation, although for this year its Government grant has gone up by 21.7 per cent. and although it is now well over £75 per person in excess of the community charge which the Government forecast, Cleveland has not been capped. If the cap fits Labour-controlled Cleveland, why cannot Cleveland wear it?

Mr. Patten

The figures which my hon. Friend gave were correct. As he said, Cleveland has received a substantial amount of assistance from the Government. On the other hand, Cleveland does not come within the criteria which we set and which are very similar to those which were applied to rate capping, which we have had to take account of, because Cleveland's spending over SSA, large though it is, is only 10.4 per cent., or £85 per head. Both on percentage terms and because of the £26 de minimis provision, which is sensible, Cleveland has not come within the criteria. I can well understand my hon. Friend's concern about spending decisions taken by Cleveland and about the implications of those decisions for his constituents.

Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh)

Will the Minister accept that it is absolute nonsense and a total myth to describe Wigan metropolitan borough as a high-spending authority? Its average spending is 5 per cent. less on more services, with the exception of secondary education, than every other metropolitan district. How does he reconcile the fact that spending in Wigan may be only £805 per head with the fact that it will be £1,436 for the Westminster woollies? Does he not realise that inadequate grants, inflation and Government decisions have put £170 per head on every Wigan poll tax payer? Does not he realise that the people of Wigan metropolitan district and Leigh will see this as another crude exercise in trickery and deception?

Mr. Patten

As I explained to the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) earlier, there is an important point about reserves in Wigan which we have had to take account of in the decision on capping. Secondly, I should point out to the hon. Gentleman that Wigan proposes next year to spend 13.1 per cent. over its adjusted 1989–90 budget. Thirdly, even with capping, spending will still be 15.1 per cent. or£108 per adult over SSA.

Sir Giles Shaw (Pudsey)

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there will be considerable disappointment in Leeds that no rate capping will occur on a community charge of £348, which is substantially in excess of the £297 set in Calderdale district? What does he propose to do about it?

Mr. Patten

I can understand my hon. Friend's concern that the local authority to which he has referred does not come within the criteria that I mentioned earlier. One of the considerations that I have to take into account is not only the present law but precedent and what has happened in the past. I believe that the criteria that I have announced are the most robust legally. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Of course. That is an important point to take account of. We have taken account of it before and I am sure—[Interruption.]

Mr. Eric Illsley (Barnsley, Central)

The Secretary of State is already aware that Barnsley metropolitan district council has complained of the indicators that have been used to assess its standard spending assessment. We are due to meet members of that authority with his right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities in May. Therefore, it seems rather premature to announce a devastating cap on Barnsley now. Surely the Secretary of State realises that those indicators in an area such as Barnsley—which still suffers from high unemployment and industrial problems because of the decline of the mining industry—are having a devastating effect. Is he not aware that six of the authorities listed in his schedule are in mining areas? Will he reconsider the indicators that he has used for areas such as Barnsley, which has a low population and low rateable values, because the effect of that cap will be—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Please be brief.

Mr. Patten

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are prepared to consider any alternative proposals from Barnsley or other local authorities. As the hon. Gentleman's question was primarily about the grant distribution formula, I should point out to him that Barnsley was proposing to spend, even under the old formula—the rescaled grant-related expenditure—19.2 per cent. above target.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I must have regard for the subsequent business. [Interruption.] Order. I know the importance of this statement to all hon. Members, but I must balance that against the business on the Order Paper. I will allow questions to continue until 5 pm. I hope to be able by then to call everyone in that time, but I cannot do so if we have—as it were—Adjournment debates rather than questions.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South-West)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that it would be perfectly possible to change the law between now and May 1991 to allow shire councils such as Bedfordshire to have elections for some of their county councillors? Otherwise—because we are a hung county council—there will be yet another year of overspending and a very high community charge. In order to give people the chance to use the ballot box, could we please have an early change in the law?

Mr. Patten

I understand my hon. Friend's argument. I know of his concern about spending decisions that have been taken in Bedfordshire, where the county is proposing to spend 9.1 per cent.—£64 per head—over standard spending assessment. It is also proposing a substantial year-on-year increase in its budget. That is of concern not only to my hon. Friend, but also to many of his constituents.

When examining the cyclical pattern of county council expenditure, many hon. Members will have seen the strong argument for annual elections. I am sure that that proposition will feature prominently in our subsequent debates on local government.

Mr. John Evans (St. Helens, North)

Is the Secretary of State aware that his announcement today will cause chaos in the efficiently run metropolitan borough of St. Helens? Will he confirm that, when he met St. Helens councillors yesterday, he could not point to any item of overspending in their budget? Will he now accept that St. Helens councillors should be allowed to come to London to put their case to him? Can he point out to me now any item of excessive spending in their budget that he has discovered in the past 24 hours?

Mr. Patten

I did have a civil meeting with councillors in the hon. Gentleman's borough yesterday. It was mostly to discuss urban programme expenditure and other developments, such as the application for city grant for one project in St. Helens. At the end of my discussion, as we were examining the proposals for a technology park, the councillors gave me some figures for St. Helens, which I considered before my statement today. It will of course be entirely appropriate for St. Helens to make proposals, if it wishes to propose a different cap or a different level of expenditure.

Mr. Evans

Will you meet them?

Mr. Patten

They will certainly be met by one of the Department of the Environment Ministers.

Let me make another point that is relevant to the consideration of St. Helens' financial position: the council had financial reserves of £11 million at 1 April 1990, of which it plans to use £3 million in 1991. Therefore, there is £8 million still available. I was proposing a reduction of £3.9 million against that £8 million.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that there will be consternation in Labour-controlled Ealing that Ealing council has not been rate-capped, bearing in mind the historic rates increases and community charge increases in recent years? There was a 65 per cent. rate increase in 1987, a 32 per cent. increase last year and now what amounts in some cases to an equivalent of a 55 per cent. increase in rates this year. Will he re-examine his list to see if he cannot put Ealing council in it?

Mr. Patten

I am glad, in the light of what my hon. Friend has said, that I am not a charge payer or still a resident in Ealing, because I understand the financial implications of Ealing's own distinctive management style for those who live in that borough. Ealing will spend 11.9 per cent. over SSA in the coming year—£115 over SSA per head. I am afraid that that means that the authority does not come within the criteria that I have announced, which I believe are reasonable and legally robust. I am afraid that on this occasion I must disappoint my hon. Friend.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

The Secretary of State has told my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy), and my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther), who represents Rotherham borough council, that he is prepared to consider alternative proposals. Rotherham borough council has never had its expenditure capped before by the Government. The decision to limit its expenditure programmes and to cut on non-statutory services already represents alternative proposals—alternatives to what the council really wanted to do.

To take £7.9 million from that authority—as the right hon. Gentleman has done by his decision this afternoon —is to attack an already impoverished area that has no alternative but to rely for much of the time on non-statutory services from the local authority. For months, the Government have argued that the point of the tax was that the people who would have to pay it would decide whether a local authority was providing the services or not. Why are we not listening to the people?

Mr. Patten

As I was not able to point out earlier in response to another question about Rotherham, Rotherham is proposing to spend 12.9 per cent. over its adjusted 1989–90 budget. That is a substantial figure, and is one of the arguments for limiting its expenditure in the coming year. Even with the cap, it will still be spending l3.7 per cent.—£95 per adult—over SSA.

Let me add—not in response to the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron)—that it is extraordinary that, after all the fury and fuss from the hon. Member for Dagenham, he has not had the courtesy to stay here until the end of these exchanges.

Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

My right hon. Friend talked about deplorably high expenditure and unjustified charges, but that does not apply only to authorities whose spending is massively higher than the SSA? It also applies to a number of authorities that have spent well over 12.5 per cent. more than last year. In my area, the charge is about £90 over the recommended Government figure. Will he appeal to county councils of that nature to re-examine their expenditure and see whether they could give a rebate —which they can do legally—halfway through the year to those hard-pressed community charge payers?

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend's suggestion is extremely sensible. His county is seeking to increase its spending in the coming year by almost 15 per cent., and is seeking to raise its total income by more than 18 per cent. Those are figures that it will have to justify to its voters and charge payers in due course. I would have the greatest difficulty in justifying figures of that size.

Mr. Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

Will the Secretary of State accept that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State recently admitted that Wigan gave better value for money in services, pound for pound, than Wandsworth borough council? Is it not a disgrace that Wigan's spending this year has increased by 6 per cent. when inflation is at 8 per cent., yet the Government have decided to poll-cap Wigan and to reduce an already beleaguered budget by £10 million? The Secretary of State owes it to Wigan council to offer it a meeting to advise it in which areas of services it is overspending and in which areas cuts should be made. It is outrageous that the Secretary of State should have made this crooked statement today. All the Secretary of State has been doing is part of a smear campaign against caring Labour local authorities which provide services for the people.

Mr. Patten

I have already referred to the position of Wigan's reserves and to the increase in spending that it has proposed for the coming year over the last year. The hon. Gentleman's constituents could do with much of the financial competence and prudence which have ensured that, in Wandsworth, the community charge is as low as it is.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

All sensible people will rejoice that my right hon. Friend has capped most of the robber barons who are in charge of Labour local authorities. Unfortunately, he has failed to cap the robber barons of Lancashire, who are spending £123 million more this year, which is 11.4 per cent. more than they should be spending and the equivalent of an additional £80.92 per person. Why do we not get them out of the woodwork and cap them to curb their expenditure?

Mr. Patten

Lancashire county council has decided to spend 11.4 per cent. over its SSA and £81 per adult. Lancashire falls—I can understand my hon. Friend's concern about this point—just outside the criteria. Nevertheless, I am sure that local people will wish to ask the county why it has chosen to spend at those high figures. Lancashire's spending is extremely high, and puts a substantial burden on community charge payers. In other districts, the local councils are sensible and more prudent. Lancashire county council has a great deal to answer for.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Is the Secretary of State aware that the SSAs he has announced are in utterly cynical manipulation designed to allow him to punish inner-city authorities which are desperately trying to provide services? How would he justify to the people of my borough of Islington that on top of all the cuts in central Government spending towards that borough in the past 10 years, there should now be a further cut of £3.7 million? Will he tell me, so that I can pass on the information to Islington, exactly which element of social services, education or housing he would personally propose to take away from the people of a hard-pressed inner-city area?

Mrs. Gorman

Tell that to Wandsworth.

Mr. Patten

What is particularly cynical is affecting concern about the impact on charge payers of spending decisions while declining to say that one will pay the community charge, and therefore putting a larger bill on charge payers. That is really cynical. The hon. Gentleman's constituents will be receiving total external support of £1,150 a head. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that £108 of the charge in Islington can be attributed to the unwinding of past creative accounting devices.

Mr. Tim Janman (Thurrock)

In his statement, my right hon. Friend made great play of the atrocious overspending by Basildon district council. Is he aware that, in the neighbouring socialist republic of Thurrock, the Labour-controlled council is overspending by 85.4 per cent. and is overcharging my constituents by more than 350 per cent.? Does he agree that the £15 million floor level for council revenue budgets should be removed and that the excellent principles which my right hon. Friend has put into practice today in his statement should apply to local authorities with a revenue budget of less than £15 million? My local council could then come in for the same treatment that he has correctly administered to those councils he has announced today.

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend's constituents are having to pay large bills. The charge set is £417, which is a result of the council spending 85.4 per cent. over SSA or £75. As my hon. Friend said, the council does not come within our criteria because its budget is less than £15 million. That threshold was set because the House felt that to have a lower threshold would mean that very small sums were involved in extra contributions per head. The House had obviously not thought very much about the impact of councils such as Thurrock on the charge payers' pockets. I am sure that we shall have an opportunity to return to this issue on a future occasion.

Miss Kate Hoey (Vauxhall)

I know that the Secretary of State is deeply unhappy today because he has been unable to poll-cap Lambeth council. I know that he is also unhappy that Lambeth's budget is well below the wild figures thrown around by him and by the Prime Minister. Is the Secretary of State aware that just yesterday, the London borough of Lambeth was given leave to appeal for a judicial review on the £7 million extra which it will have to bear for the revaluation of county hall, which has nothing to do with the individual poll tax payers who live in the borough? Will he tell us today that he will not consider Lambeth for any poll capping until we have had the result of that judicial review?

Mr. Patten

I know that a delegation from Lambeth council came to see my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities and that he made the position on that issue perfectly clear. The point came up in a debate a couple of months ago in the House. I have observed that, as we have talked about charge capping in the past few weeks, Lambeth's budget has come down and down, and as the media have pointed to the difference between the original proposals in Lambeth and what other local authorities in London have been able to do, the figure in Lambeth has come down and down. I very much hope that, now that Lambeth knows what it has to do to avoid my criteria, it will do that and come in with a budget that does not involve charge capping.

Mrs. Maureen Hicks (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that rate increases of up to 57 per cent. over the past 10 years and a present excessive community charge figure of £418, which is £150 over the Government's assessment for Wolverhampton, is the figure with which my long-suffering constituents have had to live? Is my right hon. Friend aware of the bitter disappointment that will be felt by my constituents today that he has not managed to come to their rescue—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mrs. Hicks

The answers will be in the ballot box in time, but meanwhile, the bills drop through the doors and my constituents must find the money. Who will protect them?

Mr. Patten

I do understand the sense of bitterness that many of my hon. Friend's constituents will feel about the decisions taken by Wolverhampton council. Wolverhampton has increased its budget by 19.5 per cent. above the equivalent figure for 1989–90. The result is that there will be a charge of £395, which is the third highest increase of all the metropolitan districts. It is an outrageously high figure. I am sorry that, because of the criteria that we felt were most sensible, we have not been able to come to the help of my hon. Friend's constituents in the way that she would have liked. I very much hope that they will take the appropriate measure through the ballot bax.

Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

Does the Secretary of State realise that the cuts in jobs and services —in schools, in old people's homes, in meals on wheels and in home helps—which are the real targets of today's announcement will drive hundreds of thousands of trade unionists who provide those services and local people who rely on them towards active opposition to the poll tax? Is he finally aware that given his acceptance of the poisoned chalice of his present job, he is living proof of the old adage, that those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad?

Mr. Patten

I had not imagined that the hon. Gentleman would descend to cliché—or "clitch" as Ernie Bevin called it—in quite such a spectacular way. If the services to which he referred are so important, I am rather shocked that he has decided not to help pay for them.

Mr. Chris Butler (Warrington, South)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that scandalous overspending means that, in Warrington, we face a community charge that translates into a 52 per cent. increase in rates? There are no county council elections in Cheshire until 1993. What protection will my right hon. Friend afford the citizens of Warrington?

Mr. Patten

I know that my hon. Friend is extremely upset about the consequences of spending decisions taken by his county council. I understand his concern, and I know that he has made vigorous representations on behalf of his constituents. No one could have argued more strongly for a reasonable deal for his constituents than my hon. Friend. Nevertheless, I am sorry that we have had to disappoint him today and that the criteria do not cover his local authority, or take account of its considerable overspending. I hope that, in due course, my hon. Friend's constituents will vote for Conservative councillors, who will make more sensible spending decisions.

Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)

I should like to give the Secretary of State the opportunity to withdraw a remark that he made earlier this afternoon. Replying to questions about the impact on children's education and the care of the elderly, he said that in the next few weeks there would be a parade of bleeding stumps. Not only those in the hard-pressed coalfield communities of south Yorkshire but people across the country will object to language and imagery of that sort.

The right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister and the chairman of the Conservative party have all accepted that the basis of this afternoon's statement—the standard spending assessments—are wholly discredited. He knows that they are flawed and he said so, and he promised his own Back Benchers, as he did in the House on 18 January, that they would be changed.

As a result of these spending assessments, however, councils are facing capping and cuts and, ridiculously, Calderdale is having enforced on it a poll tax of £242, £100 below the poll tax in the Prime Minister's Barnet constituency, £150 below that in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker), and £200 below the poll tax in Epsom and Ewell and in Windsor and Maidenhead. Anyone with the slightest intelligence can see that all that has come out of this shoddy completion of 11 years of central muddle and interference are increased administrative chaos, increased costs, increased cuts and a total capitulation by an honourable man to the Prime Minister's will.

Mr. Patten

I should tell the hon. Gentleman, who has stayed until the end of these exchanges—

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

That is cheap. My hon. Friend told you, Mr. Speaker, that he had to go.

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman might know why, but if the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) had to go, he was not able to convey that information to me—[Interruption.] It is actually known that one can get messages to people on the Front Bench. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dagenham could not stay.

The point that I made earlier, and I repeat it now, is that I believe that it should be perfectly possible for local authorities to run a reasonable level of effective services under the proposals that I have made this afternoon. But I anticipate a lot of scare stories; they have already started in my constituency, thus predating this afternoon's statement. They have nothing to do with sensible local government finance and everything to do with political scare tactics, of which we shall see a good deal in the coming weeks.

On the question of SSAs and GREs and the distribution formula, I have made it clear—the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) would have criticised me strongly had I not—that we are prepared to consider fresh evidence on SSAs and the formula. But, even in the context of the GREs and the spending proposals made by the local authorities that I have decided to cap, the mean figure for the increase over resealed GREs among the authorities that I have mentioned was 26 per cent., so by any standards those authorities have been substantial overspenders.

When referring to a number of local authorities, the hon. Member for Brightside knows perfectly well—because he knows and understands a good deal about local government finance—[HON. MEMBERS: "More than you do."] It just goes to show that one should never try to be courteous or civil in the Chamber on an afternoon like this. As I was saying, the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there are a number of authorities that are making substantial contributions to the safety net and to areas in which there are low rateable values, and other local authorities are taking money out of the safety net—

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Like Wandsworth.

Mr. Patten

That is why absolute levels of charge would have been an inadequate way of deciding on charge capping and would have led to considerable criticism by the Opposition—

Mr. Banks

It is a fiddle and you know it.

Mr. Patten

The hon. Member, from whom I am sorry not to have been able to hear this afternoon—

Mr. Banks

So am I.

Mr. Patten

—refers to Wandsworth, about which he has something of an obsession. He will therefore know that Wandsworth receives one of the lowest levels of grant in inner London, yet can still set a charge of £148.

Lastly, I must tell the hon. Member for Brightside, who understands the provisions of the law and what the process amounts to, that if local authorities do not accept the charge caps we have proposed, they can make their own proposals, which we must then statutorily consider. We shall carefully consider any alternative proposals put to us by local authorities.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry not to have been able to call all hon. Members who want to ask a question. I shall certainly bear them in mind when we next debate this matter or have questions on it.

Following is the table: Local Authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs Notes The attached table shows the comparison between the demands and precepts set by local authorities in 1990–91 and their Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs). For charging authorities, the comparison is with the demand on the collection fund, ie it does not include parish precepts. For the precepting authorities shown, the comparison is with the aggregate of precepts issued by the authority. Column 1: shows the SSA for each authority for 1990–91, calculated in accordance with the Distribution Report. Column 2: shows the percentage by which the demand or the aggregate of precepts exceeds the SSA (column 1). Column 3: shows the amount by which the demand or the aggregate of precepts exceeds the SSA (column 1) in £s per adult (using relevant population, as calculated in accordance with the Population Report). No adjustment has been made in this table to budgets reported to the Department where the Secretary of State believes that they have not been calculated in accordance with section 95(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The figures for demands and precepts used in this table are the latest reported by the authorities to the Secretary of State.

Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Avon 450.7 18.4 117
Bedfordshire 277.3 9.1 64
Berkshire 376.8 9.1 62
Buckinghamshire 325.0 5.7 39
Cambridgeshire 317.8 3.2 21
Cheshire 474.7 12.5 83
Cleveland 337.0 10.4 85
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Cornwall 235.4 6.2 42
Cumbria 246.5 16.0 103
Derbyshire 448.6 25.0 157
Devon 486.1 7.8 50
Dorset 290.3 4.0 23
Durham 303.7 6.9 46
East Sussex 325.1 3.7 22
Essex 761.2 2.1 13
Gloucestershire 251.6 8.9 56
Hampshire 755.5 2.0 13
Hereford and Worcester 317.8 0.8 5
Hertfordshire 477.5 6.2 40
Humberside 465.8 11.7 83
Isle of Wight 63.0 11.9 76
Kent 769.1 -1.2 -8
Lancashire 743.0 11.4 81
Leicestershire 458.8 7.9 55
Lincolnshire 295.2 0.0 0
Norfolk 352.7 4.8 30
North Yorkshire 332.9 3.8 24
Northamptonshire 297.0 5.7 40
Northumberland 142.0 16.5 102
Nottinghamshire 514.9 11.5 78
Oxfordshire 252.0 15.5 96
Shropshire 208.7 5.4 37
Somerset 224.7 11.2 72
Staffordshire 498.5 5.5 35
Suffolk 295.5 7.8 49
Surrey 446.6 7.9 45
Warwickshire 226.4 10.3 64
West Sussex 323.5 -3.3 -20
Wiltshire 268.7 5.0 32
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Bath 6.6 0.0 0
Bristol 32.7 96.3 108
Kingswood 5.1 -1.1 -1
Northavon 7.4 3.0 2
Wansdyke 4.2 -0.3 0
Woodspring 10.9 0.8 1
Luton 17.1 -7.4 -10
Mid Bedfordshire 6.1 -13.2 -10
North Bedfordshire 10.4 -4.2 -4
South Bedfordshire 6.6 -2.3 -2
Bracknell 6.2 -6.3 -6
Newbury 8.2 -20.8 -16
Reading 12.3 37.4 45
Slough 12.3 -43.3 -69
Windsor and Maidenhead 7.8 37.1 29
Wokingham 7.3 9.1 7
Aylesbury Vale 9.6 -34.5 -30
Chiltern 4.2 -2.6 -2
Milton Keynes 13.9 37.8 42
South Bucks 3.1 -20.9 -14
Wycombe 9.5 19.2 15
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Cambridge 8.3 50.0 56
East Cambridgeshire 3.7 -15.5 -13
Fenland 5.3 -5.7 -5
Huntingdonshire 9.0 -55.5 -49
Peterborough 11.2 33.5 34
South Cambridgeshire 6.7 -47.4 -36
Chester 8.2 4.5 4
Congleton 4.2 14.1 10
Crewe and Nantwich 6.9 39.1 35
Ellesmere Port and Neston 5.5 30.3 28
Halton 8.7 17.4 17
Macclesfield 8.4 0.0 0
Vale Royal 6.4 10.0 8
Warrington 11.9 15.0 13
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Hartlepool 7.8 46.9 55
Langbaurgh-on-Tees 9.4 85.6 72
Middlesborough 13.6 63.6 84
Stockton-on-Tees 12.2 53.9 50
Caradon 4.4 3.8 3
Carrick 5.5 9.8 9
Kerrier 6.0 9.3 8
North Cornwall 5.0 -10.4 -9
Penwith 4.5 -15.0 -14
Restormel 5.5 -4.1 -3
Allerdale 6.2 2.4 2
Barrow in Furness 4.9 83.6 71
Carlisle 7.7 17.1 17
Copeland 4.5 55.2 45
Eden 3.1 -18.7 -17
South Lakeland 6.2 -3.3 -3
Amber Valley 5.9 5.4 4
Bolsover 3.8 22.9 16
Chesterfield 5.9 37.1 28
Derby 19.0 -1.6 -2
Derbyshire Dales 4.2 -0.6 0
Erewash 6.3 22.0 17
High Peak 5.2 7.6 6
North East Derbyshire 4.5 36.5 22
South Derbyshire 4.1 9.9 7
East Devon 6.9 -1.9 -1
Exeter 7.7 10.9 11
Mid Devon 4.2 20.6 18
North Devon 5.8 4.0 4
Plymouth 23.0 0.0 0
South Hams 4.8 -8.1 -7
Teignbridge 6.8 31.4 26
Torbay 8.1 85.1 74
Torridge 3.5 9.0 8
West Devon 2.9 -5.4 -5
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Bournemouth 13.9 19.5 23
Christchurch 2.3 9.9 7
East Dorset 3.5 25.4 14
North Dorset 3.4 -37.0 -32
Poole 7.4 0.0 0
Purbeck 2.8 -30.0 -26
West Dorset 5.4 -6.0 -5
Weymouth and Portland 4.2 42.5 38
Chester-le-Street 2.7 69.4 45
Darlington 7.8 39.5 41
Derwentside 5.2 140.4 111
Durham 5.1 54.7 45
Easington 6.0 45.2 36
Sedgefield 5.4 56.2 45
Teesdale 1.8 -12.5 -11
Wear Valley 4.6 102.2 96
East Sussex
Brighton 14.4 39.3 52
Eastbourne 6.2 62.1 57
Hastings 7.9 42.4 54
Hove 9.3 -7.5 -10
Lewes 4.8 0.9 1
Rother 5.4 17.2 14
Wealden 7.6 3.8 3
Basildon 9.5 194.3 154
Braintree 7.0 13.6 11
Brentwood 3.6 108.5 72
Castle Point 4.6 54.6 38
Chelmsford 8.6 41.8 32
Colchester 9.4 0.0 0
Epping Forest 6.7 10.1 7
Harlow 5.5 115.4 113
Maldon 3.1 -4.1 -3
Rochford 3.8 38.7 26
Southend-on-Sea 14.0 39.3 45
Tendring 8.3 26.0 22
Thurrock 8.1 85.4 75
Uttlesford 3.8 -15.8 -12
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Cheltenham 6.7 10.7 10
Cotswold 4.7 17.7 15
Forest of Dean 4.7 -9.8 -3
Gloucester 7.1 8.6 9
—Stroud 6.1 46.5 35
Tewkesbury 4.7 -29.6 -21
Basingstoke and Deane 8.9 -10.7 -9
East Hampshire 5.7 22.2 17
Eastleigh 5.0 47.3 31
Fareham 5.1 17.6 12
Gosport 5.0 20.8 18
Hart 4.3 38.8 27
Havant 8.0 5.5 5
New Forest 9.9 -0.7 -1
Portsmouth 19.1 4.1 6
Rushmoor 5.7 6.6 7
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Southampton 18.1 14.2 16
Test Valley 5.8 -11.2 -8
Winchester 5.7 7.3 6
Hereford and Worcester
Bromsgrove 4.5 7.4 5
Hereford 3.2 -7.4 -6
Leominister 3.0 -15.4 -15
Malvern Hills 5.3 21.2 17
Redditch 5.1 46.4 42
South Herefordshire 3.5 -30.3 -28
Worcester 5.4 29.0 26
Wychavon 5.7 0.6 0
Wyre Forest 5.5 45.6 35
Broxbourne 4.8 8.5 6
Dacorum 8.3 0.0 0
East Hertfordshire 6.5 9.0 7
Hertsmere 5.3 51.1 42
North Hertfordshire 7.0 13.4 11
St Albans 7.8 -2.3 -2
Stevenage 4.8 94.1 79
Three Rivers 4.3 26.7 20
Watford 6.9 22.7 28
Welwyn Hatfield 5.6 81.9 65
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Beverley 5.6 9.9 6
Boothferry 4.7 -6.6 -6
Cleethorpes 4.6 50.4 45
East Yorkshire 5.1 43.0 33
Glanford 4.9 15.7 14
Great Grimsby 7.0 49.2 52
Holderness 3.0 33.3 25
Kingston upon Hull 25.1 26.8 35
Scunthorpe 4.4 58.3 56
Isle of Wight
Medina 5.4 -15.0 -14
South Wight 3.7 14.1 12
Ashford 6.3 2.1 2
Canterbury 8.8 26.7 25
Dartford 5.3 64.8 54
Dover 7.4 25.7 24
Gillingham 7.0 2.1 2
Gravesham 6.4 -5.2 -5
Maidstone 9.1 31.2 27
Rochester upon Medway 11.7 -42.6 -45
Sevenoaks 6.0 9.5 7
Shepway 6.5 65.1 61
Swale 7.7 41.9 38
Thanet 10.2 12.2 13
Tonbridge and Malling 5.8 50.1 38
Tunbridge Wells 6.6 10.8 9
Blackburn 15.2 24.9 40
Blackpool 13.4 36.3 41
Burnley 8.0 29.9 35
Chorley 5.5 -0.8 -1
Fylde 4.3 9.1 7
Hyndburn 6.3 29.3 31
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Lancaster 9.4 31.5 31
Pendle 6.7 40.7 44
Preston 13.2 8.1 11
Ribble Valley 2.8 6.6 5
Rossendale 4.3 66.3 59
South Ribble 5.2 16.1 11
West Lancashire 6.4 -0.1 0
Wyre 6.4 10.7 9
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Blaby 4.0 -44.1 -28
Charnwood 7.9 -12.8 -10
Harborough 3.4 -5.3 -4
Hinckley and Bosworth 4.8 -6.0 -4
Leicester 36.6 38.3 69
Melton 2.4 -6.8 -5
North West Leicestershire 4.5 24.2 18
Oadby and Wigston 2.7 18.9 13
Rutland 2.1 -8.3 -7
Boston 3.9 2.0 2
East Lindsey 9.7 -5.6 -6
Lincoln 6.7 0.0 0
North Kesteven 4.8 -8.3 -6
South Holland 4.9 16.8 16
South Kesteven 6.9 -3.9 3
West Lindsey 5.0 0.4 0
Breckland 6.5 -14.1 -11
Broadland 5.2 -16.9 -11
Great Yarmouth 6.6 45.4 43
King's Lynn and West Norfolk 9.7 -19.1 -19
North Norfolk 6.6 -9.1 -8
Norwich 10.3 45.5 50
South Norfolk 5.6 -15.1 -11
Corby 4.0 16.3 16
Daventry 3.7 -10.6 -9
East Northamptonshire 4.0 -29.7 -24
Kettering 5.1 -4.0 -4
Northampton 13.9 14.0 15
South Northamptonshire 3.6 -33.0 -24
Wellingborough 4.5 -48.6 -44
Alnwick 2.1 11.1 10
Berwick-upon-Tweed 1.7 17.3 14
Blyth Valley 4.5 104.1 79
Castle Morpeth 2.9 30.1 23
Tynedale 3.4 25.2 20
Wansbeck 3.7 94.6 74
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
North Yorkshire
Craven 3.1 -3.5 -3
Hambleton 4.6 -3.7 -3
Harrogate 3.7 69.0 56
Richmondshire 3.3 -14.2 -14
Ryedale 4.9 10.5 7
Scarborough 7.4 31.2 29
Selby 6.0 -8.7 -8
York 8.0 24.0 24
Ashfield 5.6 18.6 13
Bassetlaw 6.7 18.9 16
Broxtowe 5.8 3.8 3
Gedling 6.5 -0.4 0
Mansfield 6.0 55.2 43
Newark and Sherwood 7.1 -9.3 -8
Nottingham 29.4 11.1 16
Rushcliffe 5.4 -11.0 -8
Cherwell 7.6 -45.2 -41
Oxford 11.7 14.7 23
South Oxfordshire 7.4 -2.8 -2
Vale of White Horse 6.0 -47.3 -35
West Oxfordshire 5.8 -36.0 -31
Bridgnorth 3.1 -22.7 -18
North Shropshire 3.5 -11.8 -10
Oswestry 2.0 24.2 19
Shrewsbury and Atcham 5.3 9.7 7
South Shropshire 2.8 -7.2 -7
Wrekin 8.8 50.1 45
Mendip 5.8 -3.2 -3
Sedgemoor 6.1 -0.3 0
South Somerset 8.7 5.3 4
Taunton Deane 5.9 -15.2 -12
West Somerset 2.3 -6.2 -6
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Cannock Chase 5.6 39.3 33
East Staffordshire 7.2 5.0 5
Lichfield 5.0 -26.5 -19
Newcastle-under-Lyme 6.7 42.1 30
South Staffordshire 5.5 -38.5 -27
Stafford 7.1 -3.2 -3
Staffordshire Moorlands 5.7 7.6 6
Stoke-on-Trent 19.3 24.4 25
Tamworth 3.9 3.6 3
Babergh 4.9 -11.7 -10
Forest Heath 3.4 -12.7 -13
Ipswich 9.1 96.3 97
Mid Suffolk 5.0 -2.7 -2
St. Edmundsbury 5.6 -12.0 -10
Suffolk Coastal 6.8 31.8 28
Waveney 7.1 21.3 19
Elmbridge 5.8 56.9 39
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Epsom and Ewell 4.0 81.6 64
Guildford 8.1 -5.6 -5
Mole Valley 3.9 28.9 19
Reigate and Banstead 6.7 80.4 56
Runnymede 5.6 -67.7 -67
Spelthorne 5.2 13.5 10
Surrey Heath 4.5 10.8 8
Tandridge 4.3 37.4 28
Waverley 6.2 13.8 10
Woking 5.8 -17.3 -15
North Warwickshire 3.3 66.7 48
Nuneaton and Bedworth 6.9 57.4 45
Rugby 5.8 -1.6 -1
Stratford on Avon 6.1 -3.7 -3
Warwick 7.5 -3.5 -3
West Sussex
Adur 3.1 106.4 72
Arun 8.0 30.3 25
Chichester 6.6 -0.1 0
Crawley 6.0 87.2 78
Horsham 6.4 -0.8 -1
Mid Sussex 6.3 17.9 12
Worthing 7.1 22.4 20
Kennet 4.2 -26.9 -22
North Wiltshire 6.8 -9.3 -8
Salisbury 6.5 -17.7 -15
Thamesdown 11.8 18.8 17
West Wiltshire 5.9 22.6 17
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly 2.0 -4.6 -60
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Police and Fire Authorities
Metropolitan Police 632.1 -1.0 -1
London Fire and CD Authority 191.7 4.5 2
Greater Manchester PA 114.1 5.5 3
Merseyside PA 76.8 5.7 4
South Yorkshire PA 48.9 2.6 1
Northumbria PA 58.1 6.6 4
West Midlands PA 112.3 2.4 1
West Yorkshire PA 86.5 9.9 6
Greater Manchester FCDA 54.3 2.3 1
Merseyside FCDA 36.5 3.5 1
South Yorkshire FCDA 22.6 23.7 5
Tyne and Wear FCDA 24.7 10.0 3
West Midlands FCDA 53.5 2.0 1
West Yorkshire FCDA 37.8 25.6 6
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Inner London
City of London 41.6 63.1 10,130
Camden 151.3 19.9 232
Greenwich 153.0 39.2 387
Hackney 205.5 14.8 233
Hammersmith and Fulham 132.4 26.6 297
Islington 158.2 19.8 251
Kensington and Chelsea 98.6 11.1 132
Lambeth 240.2 27.0 376
Lewisham 174.3 19.2 196
Southwark 193.2 24.8 290
Tower Hamlets 179.6 16.5 262
Wandsworth 202.7 3.8 38
Westminster 172.2 -7.4 -94
Outer London
Barking and Dagenham 89.1 11.6 95
Barnet 160.0 -1.9 -14
Bexley 116.3 1.6 11
Brent 214.8 16.1 178
Bromley 141.6 0.2 1
Croydon 190.1 -6.0 -48
Ealing 202.5 11.9 115
Enfield 159.7 2.5 21
Haringey 166.9 29.8 351
Harrow 115.8 -0.5 -4
Havering 117.3 8.9 59
Hillingdon 125.9 20.0 143
Hounslow 124.9 13.3 108
Kingston-upon-Thames 72.9 8.8 63
Merton 97.6 -4.0 -30
Newham 195.3 10.6 130
Redbridge 129.1 1.7 13
Richmond-upon-Thames 76.0 8.8 54
Sutton 88.2 12.4 85
Waltham Forest 160.7 11.5 115
Note: Arrangements to reflect the status of the City of London as a special authority mean that only part of the difference between its SSA and demand falls on chargepayers. No adjustment has been made to the demands of the City of London and Inner London boroughs for the overspend inherited from ILEA.
Local authority demands and precepts 1990–91 compared with SSAs
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
Greater Manchester
Bolton 157.9 5.9 48
Bury 91.7 12.4 85
Manchester 340.6 3.9 46
Oldham 139.2 9.2 81
Rochdale 128.0 18.8 152
Salford 146.7 9.3 80
Stockport 148.2 13.7 93
Tameside 124.8 13.8 101
Trafford 121.9 -2.6 -20
Wigan 165.6 21.1 151
Knowsley 113.0 5.0 51
Liverpool 349.6 10.0 107
Sefton 158.0 11.4 82
St. Helens 109.1 16.2 130
Wirral 197.1 4.1 33
Authority Standard spending assessment Overspend on SSA Overspend on SSA
£ million Percentage £/adult
1 2 3
South Yorkshire
Barnsley 112.1 26.6 178
Doncaster 158.6 19.9 144
Rotherham 138.5 19.5 134
Sheffield 289.5 12.4 85
Tyne and Wear
Gateshead 117.8 12.2 92
Newcastle upon Tyne 173.3 12.4 107
North Tyneside 109.2 18.8 136
South Tyneside 97.2 9.9 81
Sunderland 176.8 9.1 75
West Midlands
Birmingham 724.1 6.4 67
Coventry 190.1 11.2 97
Dudley 156.9 11.7 77
Sandwell 192.0 13.0 113
Solihull 103.7 6.3 43
Walsall 156.9 13.8 113
Wolverhampton 172.8 7.7 72
West Yorkshire
Bradford 315.7 3.0 30
Calderdale 109.9 20.9 160
Kirklees 219.0 14.9 117
Leeds 389.6 7.3 55
Wakefield 161.7 14.3 97
Community Charge Capping 1990–91
The table below shows the authorities which the Secretary of State is today designating for community charge limitation and the maximum amounts (ie "caps") which he is proposing.
Budget Proposed Reduction
£ million cap £ million £ per adult
Avon 533.7 507.1 26.6 37
Barnsley 142.0 132.0 10.0 59
Basildon 27.9 23.7 4.2 35
Brent 249.3 241.7 7.6 39
Bristol 64.2 56.6 7.6 26
Calderdale 132.9 125.4 7.5 52
Camden 181.4 177.0 4.4 34
Derbyshire 560.6 520.6 40.0 56
Doncaster 190.1 178.5 11.6 53
Greenwich 213.0 203.0 10.0 65
Hammersmith and Fulham 167.5 155.8 11.7 99
Haringey 216.5 206.5 10.0 71
Hillingdon 151.0 141.7 9.3 53
Islington 189.5 185.8 3.7 30
North Tyneside 129.7 122.9 6.8 45
Rochdale 152.0 144.0 8.0 51
Rotherham 165.4 157.5 7.9 39
St. Helens 126.7 122.8 3.9 29
Southwark 241.0 226.9 14.1 86
Wigan 200.6 190.6 10.0 43
Note: 1. Reductions shown as £ per head of relevant population.