I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 131 together.
The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, set out the legislation underpinning the household charge and the charge on non-principal private residences respectively.
Under the legislation, it is a function of a local authority to collect household charges and charges on non-principal private residences and associated late payment penalties due to it and all such charges and late payment penalties imposed and payable to a local authority are under the care and management of the local authority concerned. In this regard, application of the legislation in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.
I have recently issued guidelines to local authorities in relation to the operation of the "care and management" provisions of the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 in the context of individual situations where genuine hardship in having to discharge a liability in a single payment can be demonstrated. In such cases, the guidelines set out the modalities for local authorities in entering into payment arrangements for the discharge of outstanding liabilities in instalments over a specified period. I also intend to issue guidance shortly to local authorities on hardship in the context of the operation of the "care and management" provisions of the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011.