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An indication from The Observer yesterday that Labour will challenge the affordability of the Conservatives Council Tax freeze policy. It is pledged that a Conservative Government will provide extra funds to Town Halls in return for then freezing Council Tax. This will be available over a two year period. Labour claim this would cost £1.47 billion rather than the £1 billion the Tories claim. The Conservative will also cancel the stealth tax rises of Labour's Council tax revaluation.

The Conservatives should relish a "where will the money come from" debate on this question. The Local Government Association have pointed to the staggering costs of collecting 3,000 bits data (for the 198 areas in the "National Indicator Set.") . For the Department of Communities and Local Government the bill is £1.5 billion, plus another £430 million spent by Quangos, plus another £2.3 billion spent by Councils answering all the questions. This isn't money spent on teachers, or social workers, or dustman or road sweepers or home helps or caretakers or librarians or park keepers. It is spent on data. All this data is about ensuring that Town Halls conform to Whitehall's centralised model. It stifles democracy, innovation and adaption to local need. Localism would save £4.5 billion a year.

If Labour want a debate on where the money will come from then the Conservatives should respond by pointing out what it is going on at present.

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