Best Value audit will cost £56m

27 Jan 00
Best Value audit and inspection fees are likely to cost English and Welsh councils £56m.

28 January 2000

A consultation paper published by the Audit Commission on January 21 said that in a full financial year £52m would be borne by English authorities, the rest by Wales' 22 councils.

Those facing the largest costs are the London boroughs. Their costs per year for the new regime are predicted to average £160,000.

Metropolitan councils will face an estimated bill of £148,000. Unitaries and counties will pay £97,000 and £46,000. At the lower end, districts will pay £26,000.

The costs will be reimbursed in full by the government through grants to the Audit Commission and extra money allocated through the Revenue Support Grant.

However, local government remains concerned. The Association of London Government, which represents the capital's councils, said it would be 'monitoring the situation to see what the implications are'.

Neil Kinghan, finance director at the Local Government Association, said it was 'unhelpful' of the commission to put out its consultation paper so close to Best Value becoming law in April. He added that although extra money had been made available, councils had to plan over the past few months without knowing what the full costs of Best Value would be.

The commission intends to create a market in Best Value inspections. It predicts that private sector firms will carry out 50% of these.

Peter Wilkinson, director of corporate resources at the commission, said the first year's costs will total £43m, as only just over half of the forecast number of inspections will be carried out as the new system comes into operation.


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