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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 10/09/2002
CAPITAL RECEIPTS GROUP



The purpose of this report is to keep members informed of the work that Waverley is doing, with other Councils, to persuade the Government to remove Clause 10 from the draft Local Government Bill. Clause 10 is the clause that will give the Secretary of State power to take money received from the sale of this Council’s houses (sold under right-to-buy provisions) and redistribute that money elsewhere in the country. Waverley has worked with other authorities to form the Capital Receipts Group - a group with 49 member authorities that are all opposed to Clause 10. Resource implications of supporting the Group, including staff time and a 600 contribution to the cost of consultants are being met from within existing budgets – Waverley stands to lose 2.4 million a year in capital receipts if Clause 10 is not dropped. Other implications are referred to in the narrative.
APPENDIX E

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 10 SEPTEMBER 2002

Title:
CAPITAL RECEIPTS GROUP
[Wards Affected: N/A]

Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to keep members informed of the work that Waverley is doing, with other Councils, to persuade the Government to remove Clause 10 from the draft Local Government Bill. Clause 10 is the clause that will give the Secretary of State power to take money received from the sale of this Council’s houses (sold under right-to-buy provisions) and redistribute that money elsewhere in the country. Waverley has worked with other authorities to form the Capital Receipts Group - a group with 49 member authorities that are all opposed to Clause 10. Resource implications of supporting the Group, including staff time and a 600 contribution to the cost of consultants are being met from within existing budgets – Waverley stands to lose 2.4 million a year in capital receipts if Clause 10 is not dropped. Other implications are referred to in the narrative.

Introduction

1. Members will be aware that, under proposals first set out in the Local Government White Paper and subsequently repeated in the draft Local Government Bill, the Government plans to take Housing Capital Receipts away from debt-free authorities, such as Waverley and redistribute that money to other authorities.

2. Earlier this year South Cambridgeshire District Council asked the Government to clarify the white paper proposals. Lord Falconer, then the Housing minister at the DTLR, replied affirming the Government’s proposals. Lord Falconer also spoke of the need to “remove the incentive to become debt-free which does not fit well with the aims of the new system”. South Cambridgeshire circulated this response to a number of other debt-free authorities including Waverley.

3. In June 2002, after discussion with South Cambridgeshire, Waverley wrote to all debt-free housing authorities asking for support in a campaign to get the Government to change its mind. An initial meeting was held at the House of Commons (hosted by the Rt Hon Virginia Bottomley MP) on 10th July. At this meeting it was agreed that there was sufficient support for a co-ordinated campaign.

The Capital Receipts Group

4. Following the success of the meeting on 10th July, a second meeting of the group (now named the Capital Receipts Group) was held on 12th August at Local Government House. At that meeting the Group agreed that its prime objective was to see Clause 10 removed from the Local Government Bill.

5. The group agreed to a cross-party structure with four co-chairmen. Cllr David Harmer, Leader of this Council, was appointed as the Conservative Co-Chairman of the group. Cllr Richard Struck from Three Rivers District Council was appointed as the Liberal Democrat Co-Chairman and Cllr Alan Hopkins from Elmbridge District Council is to be the Independent Co-Chairman. At the time of writing, no Labour Co-Chairman had been appointed.

6. The group also heard a presentation from LLM Communications about campaign strategy and agreed to use LLM as consultants. LLM’s contract is with Waverley Borough Council but the cost of LLM’s work will be shared out amongst other members of the group. Guildford Borough Council is providing administrative support and invoicing other authorities for their contributions.

7. The Capital Receipts Group’s first piece of work - the response to the draft Local Government Bill - is attached as Annexe 1. 49 authorities have formally agreed to support the work of the group and these are listed as part of the response. A further 20 or so authorities have asked to be kept informed of the group’s work.

8. As a direct result of the Capital Receipt Group’s work, the LGA Executive discussed, on 22nd August, the issue of the pooling of housing capital receipts and decided “that local authorities be consulted on the principle of pooling housing capital receipts and on the preliminary view of the Executive which is to oppose the proposal in principle”. This is a significant success for the group since the LGA had previously dismissed the issue as being one of redistribution and therefore not something they would normally get involved with.

9. As part of the campaign strategy, the group plans to raise the profile of this issue in the media and to work with MPs and others to ensure that Clause 10 is not in the final version of the Bill. If the group is not successful in this then the plan is to work with MPs and subsequently with the House of Lords to have the Clause deleted or amended as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

Resource Implications

10. The costs of employing LLM Communications are to be shared by members of the Capital Receipts Group. Waverley’s share of those costs is 600 and this is being met from within existing budgets. The other cost to Waverley is that of staff time which is met from within existing staff resources and budgets.

11. The Council’s Capital Budget assumes 3.2 million will be received from Council House sales in the current year. It is expected that 2.4 million of the larger sum would be lost if Clause 10 is not dropped from the Local Government Bill.

Environmental Implications

12. There are no environmental implications arising from the content of this report.

“Opportunities for All” Implications

13. Implementation of Clause 10 of the draft Local Government Bill will affect those individuals who already have limited access to decent affordable housing. A reduction in Waverley’s capital receipts would have a negative impact on the Council’s plans to bring all its housing stock up to the “Decent Homes Standard”. It would also restrict the Council’s ability to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in the borough.

Human Rights Act

14. There are no human rights implications arising from the content of this report

Community Safety

15. There are no community safety implications arising from the content of this report. Recommendation

That the Committee notes the content of this report.

Background Papers (DoH)

Decision Notes from the meeting of the Local Government Association Executive held on 22nd August 2002.

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Louise Goodfellow Telephone: 01483 523092
comms/0&S2/2002-2003/039