§ Mr. Raison
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) those local authorities where the district auditor has proposed a surcharge on councillors who did not implement the Housing Finance Act 1972 in full and the number of councillors concerned, (b) those local authorities whose accounts are still under investigation in this respect and the number of councillors concerned, and (c) his latest estimate of the total sums which have not been collected.
§ Mr. Crosland:
District auditors are independent officers who do not report to me on the consideration of issues arising in the performance of their statutory duties. I cannot therefore provide lists of authorities where accounts are still under consideration and failure to implement the Housing Finance Act may involve surchargable losses or expenses. There may be about 20 authorities in England and Wales where these issues arise, the number of members concerned may be around 400 and the shortfall of income about £1½ million.
§ Mr. Channon
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether taxation subsidy was paid in full to those local authorities which delayed implementation of the Housing Finance Act 1972, or whether the taxation subsidy was calculated on the basis that the full rent income had been properly collected in the financial year;
(2) whether tax subsidies were paid in full for the financial years 1972–73 and 1973–74, respectively, to those local authorities which increased their entitlement to housing subsidies by their failure or delay in implementing the Housing Finance Act 1972.
§ Mr. Crosland:
I assume that references to tax or taxation subsidies are to central Government subsidies.
In most of these cases the final settlement for the years 1972–73 and 1973–74 has not yet been made. To the extent that an account is allowed by a district auditor, a loss of rent income through delay in implementing the Housing Finance Act would normally have the effect of increasing both an authority's entitlement to housing subsidies and the authority's obligation to make associated rate 298W fund contributions. Where, however, there is a surcharge, or where, in place of surcharge, recovery is to be effected under the provisions of the Housing Finance (Special Provisions) Bill, increased housing subsidies due to a loss of rent income would not be payable.
Unrecovered surcharges would, under present arrangements, fall to be met from the rate fund and attract rate support grant. Under the Bill any sums charged to the rate fund which would be surcharged but for Clause 1, and any charge to the rate fund under Clause 3, would not attract rate support grant.