Raise your game on Best Value, says Foster

20 Sep 01
Nearly half of all council services that have had a Best Value inspection have been judged unlikely to improve or worse, according to the Audit Commission.

21 September 2001

The watchdog's second annual 'state of local government' report, Changing gear, also found that just one-third of services inspected were considered to be of a high quality. The remaining two-thirds were either fair or failing.

Standards between different types of councils varied widely. Only 43% of district councils and 33% of Welsh authorities inspected were judged likely to improve, compared with 63% for other types of local authority. There were also stark differences in results across departments: just 23% of housing departments were considered good or better, compared with 68% for social services departments.

Commission controller Sir Andrew Foster said councils needed to 'raise their game'. He also called on the government to make the Best Value regime more responsive to authorities' needs by cutting from 70 to one the number of annual plans they have to compile. Foster said: 'The government have a major job on their hands rationalising the planning system.'

Matthew Warburton, the Local Government Association's head of strategy, said authorities were learning lessons from the results of their year-one inspections. He said: 'Large numbers are adopting a very different approach for their year-two reviews.'

Warburton added that ministers needed to ensure Best Value was better integrated with other initiatives. 'Best Value has become detached from the modernisation agenda, so authorities need to start seeing it as part of their day job. This is partly something for them to do themselves, but it is also up to the government,' he said.


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