HC Deb 01 July 1997 vol 297 cc125-6W
26. Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what powers he has to direct a local authority to rebill all households in the event that it is refused permission to spend above its cap; and who pays for this. [4689]

Mr. Raynsford

The powers to limit an authority's budget requirement are set out in sections 57 to 59 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Where these powers have been exercised, the authority is required to make substitute calculations by virtue of section 60, which applies to billing authorities, and section 61, which applies to precepting authorities. Under section 31 a billing authority which makes substitute calculations is required to set substitute amounts of council tax and there is an equivalent requirement for a precepting authority in section 42. Costs of rebilling fall to the billing authority except where they result from a substitute precept issued by a precepting authority. In such cases, section 31 allows the billing authority to recover its administrative expenses from the precepting authority.

Mr. Laurence Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement regarding his Department's policy towards the capping of local authorities' spending. [5875]

Mr. Raynsford

We have now met all three of the authorities designated for capping this year (Oxfordshire, Somerset and Warwickshire County Councils) and are carefully considering their cases before determining caps for each authority which are reasonable, achievable and appropriate. We hope to complete the 1997–98 capping round before the summer recess.

For the future, we have given a commitment to do away with crude and universal capping, although we will retain reserve powers to control excessive council tax increases. We are now considering ways to implement our commitment.