Ms Armstrong told a Commons investigation into the Audit Commission that councils could expect no reduction in the number of audit inspection levels.
But after Conservative MP Crispin Blunt said the Local Government Association believed best value would develop 'a new capacity for self-improvement', Ms Armstrong said that as standards rose, 'so the need for the heavy end of inspections will diminish'. But she refused to commit to reducing inspection levels.
Ms Armstrong said the government intended to cap inspection fees. MPs pointed out that South Devon DC had already protested at the burden on smaller councils.
But director of inspection Wendy Thomson earlier told MPs the new best value regime would actually cost£47m. Ms Armstrong told MPs the government was 'dragging the LGA into discussions' on the current review of standard spending assessments for the green paper due soon.