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CAPPING: 'ANNOUNCEMENT DESIGNED TO DISTRACT ATTENTION FROM THE REAL PROBLEM'

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Conservatives today criticised the government's capping ...
Conservatives today criticised the government's capping announcementwhich will do nothing to address the underlying problems of soaring council tax: fiddled local funding from Whitehall and the never ending torrent of new burdens, targets and red tape from John Prescott's interfering department.

Shadow local government minister Philip Hammond said:

'What the government has done is apply a sticking plaster to a gaping wound.

'The capping process, which the government promised would be a lifeboat for pensioners and those on fixed incomes, has ended up as a shipwreck of a policy: unfair, untransparent and ineffective.

'It is designed to distract public attention from the real problem: this government, which has loaded councils with extra burdens and bureaucracy without funding them properly and gerrymandered funds away from well-run Conservative authorities to badly-run Labour ones.

'For all the bluster and posturing, at the end of the process, council tax payers, councils and local authority service users have once again been let down by Labour.'

Pointing out that in 2002 the Labour government pledged that no authority rated good or excellent in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment would be subject to capping powers, yet today two such authorities are on the list he said:

'This makes a mockery of the whole costly CPA process and the billion-pound-a-year of council tax payers' money that it costs.'

He also pointed out that the cost of rebilling could be well over a million pounds:

'Necessitating further cuts in front line services'.

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