§ Mr. John Fraser
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will exempt from rates penalties the cost to Lambeth borough council which would flow from the proposed reduction in reimbursement to 60 per cent. of the cost of administering the housing benefit scheme.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The new arrangements for paying specific grant for housing benefit operating costs are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, but they do not, I understand, represent a reduction in grant for local authorities as a whole. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has received representations from Lambeth borough council that all expenditure on housing benefit administration not reimbursed by specific grant should be disregarded under section 8(4) of the Local Government Act 1982 in assessing liability to grant abatement. These will be considered before final decisions are made for grant abatement in 1983–84 and 1984–85.