Mr. Edward Taylor
Local authorities already have powers to adjust the rebate or allowance on any change in a tenant's circumstances, however caused. They may also, where appropriate, base any rebate or allowance on evidence of earnings week by week instead of over the normal five weeks or two months. This flexibility should be quite adequate in the present situation, but, of course, I should be glad to look into any difficulties of which the hon. Gentleman may be aware.
§ Mr. Ewing
Is the Minister aware that the number of people entitled to rent rebates and rent allowances in Scotland as the result of the three-day week will almost double, and that many people are now living on a much lower wage? Will the Minister consider circularising Scottish local authorities to the effect that they can consider earnings week by week as opposed to considering them for a five-week period?
Indeed, local authorities can where appropriate base any rebate scheme on evidence of earnings week by week, as one or two local authorities are doing. I hope that that information is available to all. If the hon. Gentleman's own authority has any difficulty I hope it will consult the Department. I shall look carefully at his sensible suggestion.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Is there any truth in the recent report that one-third of Edinburgh tenants are receiving rent rebates under the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act?
No, that information is not correct. I have not seen the report referred to. The position is not that one-third of Edinburgh tenants are receiving a rebate, but that one-half of them are. The exact figure is 51.98 per cent. That is the figure before the recent difficulties. The average rebate is more than £100 per year.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Will the recent three-day week and the consequent increase in the number of rebates be allowed for in the Government's calculations when we receive the rate support grant increase orders?
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a precise answer, but I assure him that the new orders will take into account all relevant factors.