§ Mr. Bill Walker
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when Scottish local authorities are to be compensated in respect of the statutory reduction of community charges; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Lang
A new grant—community charge grant—is to be paid to local authorities to reimburse them for the loss of community charge income arising from the provisions of the Community Charges (General Reduction) Act 1991. Payment of this grant will be made to Scottish authorities in 49 weekly instalments each totalling £8.921 million commencing later this month on the basis of an estimate of the charge income forgone by each authority. Final grant entitlement will be calculated after the end of the financial year 1991–92. Parliamentary approval of this new expenditure will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the relevant vote (class XV vote 22). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure (estimated at £26.762 million for the grant payments to be made in April and the early part of May) will be met by repayable advances from the contingencies fund.
With the consent of the Treasury, I also plan to front-load payments of revenue support grant to Scottish authorities for the current year. Through a combination of community charge grant and revenue support grant, Scottish authorities will receive grant totalling nearly £955 million by the end of June which is over £280 million more than would have been the case under the normal arrangements for the payment of revenue support grant.
It is obviously desirable that levying authorities should issue revised bills as quickly as possible, but I am satisfied 256W that this additional grant will compensate all authorities for the loss of charge income which they are likely to face while rebilling takes place.