From Rates to the Poll Tax: Local Government Finance in the Thatcher Era

By Arthur Midwinter; Claire Monaghan | Go to book overview
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Table 3.9: Housing Capital Allocations
Gross Allocations
( 1990-91 Prices)
(£m)
% Funded
By Receipts
Net Allocation
( 1990-91 Prices)
1979-80 463 N/A 463
1980-81 408 8.1 375
1981-82 375 22.4 291
1982-83 374 38.6 230
1983-84 418 44.6 232
1984-85 338 52.0 162
1985-86 371 43.3 211
1986-87 421 38.3 260
1987-88 530 44.7 309
1988-89 526 57.8 222
1989-90 518 66.5 173
1990-91 459 59.7 185
Source: Convention of Scottish Local Authorities: RSG and HSG 1991-92

ment, the council house sales policy is difficult to understand. Political logic is more understandable, given the link between housing tenure and voting behaviour ( Heath, Jowell and Curtice, 1985; Rose and McAllister, 1986). Sales, however, have been relatively lower in the urban belt, in pan because of the higher incidence of flatted accommodation, but also because of household economics (Scottish Office Central Research Unit, 1985). Sales have been concentrated in the better housing, leaving a shrinking stock with higher repair and maintenance costs. The wisdom of selling public assets at bargain prices to fund essential modernisation and repairs is still open to question.


CONCLUSION

In housing finance, the Government have fashioned policy instruments which have moved its influence from a directive to a regulatory one. Housing is almost wholly funded from council rents. This sits easily with the notion of municipal housing as a social service for those on low incomes, described as 'residualisation' ( Malpass and Murie, 1987). The cuts in council housing expenditure have to some extent been counteracted by increased welfare benefits through the social security system. Councils will soon be charging economic rents in the narrow political definition of that concept whereby costs are met by consumers. Housing resources, it is claimed, are better targeted to those in greatest need by this approach. We would have to say that we remain sceptical that locally determined rate fund contributions were ever the way to a rational, equitable approach to housing subsidies, varying with political disposition more than tenant need. The housing equation needs to incorporate a consideration of the impact of tax relief on mortgage holders for a balanced judgement, but this is beyond the scope of our concern. We

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