HC Deb 22 April 1999 vol 329 cc697-8W
Ms Lawrence

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he proposes to use his capping powers for 1999–2000; and if he will make a statement. [82136]

Mr. Michael

In line with our Manifesto commitment to abolish crude and universal capping, I decided not to announce capping limits in advance for 1999–2000. This left councils and police authorities in Wales to make up their own minds on their budgets taking account of their local circumstances, including the impact on council tax, and the views of local people.

The average Band D council tax bill in Wales has increased by 8.5 per cent. or £47 to £602. Overall, the reaction to the 1999–2000 local government revenue settlement has been measured and responsible. I have therefore decided not to cap any authorities this year.

The National Assembly for Wales will inherit my present capping powers in respect of 2000–01 and later years, although it is planned to replace these powers with the new reserve powers to limit council tax and precepts which are contained in the Local Government Bill.

Authorities in Wales should bear in mind that the Assembly will be able to look back at increases in budgets since 1998–99 in deciding whether and how to use the new reserve powers in future years.

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