HC Deb 25 July 1989 vol 157 cc693-4W
Mr. Greg Knight

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how, in the new local government finance system, he intends that the relevant population of each charging authority in England should be calculated for the purposes of determining revenue support grant and non-domestic rate entitlement and for dividing precepts among charging authorities.

Mr. Gummer

I told the Consultative Council for Local Government Finance on 12 July that following representations from the local authority associations we now intend that the relevant population should be calculated from data supplied from community charge registers. We intend to take powers in the Local Government and Housing Bill to facilitate this. These data will, we believe, provide the most appropriate record of the adult population in an area liable to pay the community charge. We shall make provision for those occasions when the necessary information is not provided by a local authority. We also intend to make provision to enable the Secretary of State to substitute an alternative figure where there is doubt that the figure derived from the register is a realistic estimate of an area's adult population. For this purpose we propose that an alternative be adopted where the register figure differs from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys' estimate of the area's adult population by more than a defined percentage.

Mr. Baldry

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the results of consultation on the harmonisation of the decapitalisation rate used for rating assessment in Great Britain that he announced on 7 March.

Mr. Chris Patten

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have considered carefully the responses received to our proposal to set the decapitalisation rate for property valued by reference to the cost of construction somewhere in the range of 6 per cent. to 7 per cent. Respondents recognised that a common decapitalisation rate throughout Great Britain will assist in the harmonisation of rating. However, they generally argued that a figure as high as 7 per cent. overstated the relationship between the decapitalisation rate and the 1988 cost of borrowing to finance construction. We have therefore decided to set the rate at 6 per cent. for most property, with a lower rate of 4 per cent. applying to educational property—schools, universities, polytechnics and to colleges of further and higher education provided by local authorities and non-profit making bodies; this rate will also apply to hospitals and certain other health establishments. The necessary regulations will be made later this year.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is giving further consideration to the rates to be applied to sports grounds, amateur sports clubs and to church property valued on the contractors basis in Scotland.

Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance he provides(a) to parents about the eligibility of their children aged 18 or 19 years or over, who are required to remain in secondary education, to pay poll tax and (b) to young people, who leave secondary education after their 18th or 19th birthdays and are granted places as students at institutions of higher or further education, about their liability to pay a full personal poll tax between leaving school and entering university or college; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gummer

[holding answer 20 July 1989]: No one has any liability to pay a poll tax as no such tax exists or is planned. Guidance on individuals' community charge liability is contained in the Department's free booklet "You and the Community Charge" and the associated series of free leaflets including that entitled, "Students".

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