Conservatives promise radical reform

Iain Duncan Smith has pledged to fund the recruitment of 40,000
extra police officers by cutting spending on asylum seekers and
refugees by two thirds as part of a radical shake up of local
government services, writes Derren

The Conservative leader said that, if elected to power, his
party would cut the £1.5bn spent on the asylum system because
it could be “better spent on more police”. He said the
current system would be replaced with annual quotas for refugees
with genuine claims.

Speaking at the Local Government Association annual conference
in Harrogate yesterday, Duncan Smith also promised to scrap the
Comprehensive Performance Assessment and Best Value schemes.

He told local government delegates that Best Value was
“heavy handed and places too many restrictions and
inspections on councils” and that it was a “perverse
logic to promise autonomy to those councils already performing
well” as happens with CPA.

A task force on community government set up by the Conservative
leader is already looking at alternatives. “At its simplest,
I think an annual financial audit, written in plain English and put
into the public domain, would ensure people are still able to check
up on the performance and delivery of their local council, while
doing away with the excessive burdens councils currently

Duncan Smith went on to promise places on rehabilitation schemes
for all young drug addicts. He said every young heroin and cocaine
addict would be given the option of drug rehabilitation therapy,
run and delivered by local groups using a variety of methods, as an
alternative to prison.

“For years we have either turned a blind eye to young drug
addicts or treated them as criminals, ignoring them for years and
then locking them up in prisons when they commit a crime,” he
said. “We do little to get them off the habit and to stop
them offending – no wonder we have the highest rates of
recidivism amongst young offenders.”

Duncan Smith said a Conservative government would scrap regional
quangos and launch an immediate review of the new local government
finance formula, which was introduced in April.

The Labour local government group accused Duncan Smith of vowing
to do away with the tools that had been used to assist councils to
improve, and of being “long on rhetoric and short on

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