HC Deb 05 April 1976 vol 909 cc43-4W
Mr. Cohen

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made towards a decision on assisting local authorities in meeting the cost of rectifying the effects of the use of high alumina cement in the construction of buildings within their area.

Mr. John Silkin

The total expenditure to be incurred by over 230 local authorities in England and Wales in remedial work on their buildings affected by high alumina cement is estimated to be about £31 million over the six years from 1974–5 to 1979–80. The greater part of the expenditure can be met from loans and on this basis the total annual charge will be about £2.9 million in 1976–77 and £3.4 million in 1977–78 and subsequent years.

It has been represented that because this expenditure is so unevenly spread among local authorities, the normal rate support grant distribution of Exchequer assistance does not adequately reflect the burden falling on particular authorities, and that there should be a specific grant.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have considered these representations very carefully and in particular we have examined the burden of expenditure falling on individual authorities.

We have concluded that while the incidence of the expenditure is very uneven, the sums involved are not large enough to justify distributing part of Exchequer assistance to local government as a specific grant in respect of that expenditure.

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