§ Mr. Heddle
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement about the method of assessment for rate rebates awarded to the severely handicapped; and what is the reason for entitlement of rebate being based on gross rather than net income.
§ Mr. King
Local authorities are required to assess a person's entitlement to rate rebate in accordance with the Rate Rebate Regulations 1978, as amended. The scheme is based on gross income set against outgoings in the form of a "needs allowance" and the amount of rates payable.
The additional needs of disabled people are recognised in that the needs allowance is higher than for able-bodied people. In addition, the first £4 weekly of a war disability pension payment is disregarded in assessing income, and attendance and mobility allowances are disregarded in full.
The system is based on gross income because it is simple and economic for local authorities to operate. A "net" income scheme of any kind would involve higher administrative costs, and would require applicants to provide more detailed information.