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Land Charges

Requested on
Tue 26th April, 2011
Reference
FOI 1279
Resolution
Information provided

Question

I should be grateful if you would respond to the following queries under EIR/FOI. (highlighted as bullet points).

The above paper was sent to all Councils in March 2011. Paragraph 4 appears to be missing.

* £34,555 is being given to each Council. Please advise me whether this meets your lost income and liability to refund unlawfully charged fees.
* I note Councils are now being offered financial support. Is there likely to be a shortfall and, if so, who will bear the cost?

* Was there a legitimate expectation that all Councils would have their losses met in full?
The documents below suggest that such an expectation would be reasonable.

DEFRA letter dated 28.9.10 to local authorities:

“There should be no overall cost to local authorities in the current financial year as the loss of income and repayment of unlawful charges will be met by central government.”

The Ministry of Justice advised 11.11.10 that:

Paragraph 1 of page 12 of the Cross-Whitehall review of statutory duties states that “The cost of the recent withdrawal of the fee for a personal search of the local land charges register in England for the current year is being met by Central Government.”

* How does the £34,555 compare with the figures you supplied to Government via the MOJ and LGA?
* Do you know what rationale determines that the same sum goes to all Councils irrespective of size? For example, Lambeth Borough Council’s auditor, Deloitte’s, calculate Lambeth Council’s EI refund liability to be a minimum of £6 million. Please advise me of your liability.

Answer

·           We are not aware of any substantiated claims being received for the refund of any charged fees and therefore do not hold any information about losses or liability.

·           In relation to the budgeted figure for 2010-11, the Council has not made a loss on anticipated Land Charges Income.

·           We are unaware that figures have been supplied to either the MOJ or LGA relating to this.

·           We do not know the rationale that determines why the same sum goes to all Councils' irrespective of size. 

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