Archives for October 31st, 2001

BEST VALUE LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVIEW REVEALS NEW INCLUSIVE STYLE

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 October, 2001

The review of Best Value announced by Stephen Byers, Secretary of State at DTLR earlier in the month is now revealed as a new style approach to improving public services. The Best Value regime, launched in April 2000, is failing to deliver either improved quality or better value services across local government, which includes police and fire services. The regime aims to promote a culture of continuous improvement in each authority through a rolling five-year review programme of all its functions and to monitor the outcome against national Best Value Performance Indicators. In reality Best Value has proved a burden in consuming resources to little effect and it has had virtually no effect on the organizational culture.Reviews of public services by central departments take different forms, but usually the work is carried out by a departmental team, sometimes headed by an ‘outsider’. The team consult stakeholders, but then present their views to Ministers. This model is typified by the impending review of the Courts Service which will be is led by the Lord Chancellor’s Department with team members from other departments. The Best Value review is unique in that the team has been drawn from a wide range of stakeholders. It includes representatives from central and local government, the Audit Commission, the TUC and the private and voluntary sectors. Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford will head the team.

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RADICAL POLICE REFORM STRATEGY TAKING SHAPE

Headlines, PublicNet: 31 October, 2001

Street wardens, police auxiliaries and greater powers for Transport Policehave emerged as key elements of the strategy to improve the maintenance of law and order. Funding for street wardens has been allocated and details of new powers for Transport Police to operate outside railway premises have been published, but proposals by the Metropolitan Police Authority for police auxiliaries are at the discussion stage.Building public confidence is a key aim of reform strategy announced last month by Home Secretary David Blunkett. The new and proposed measures will have a high visibility and influence the confidence levels of the public about what is being done to protect them. Extending the police family in this way is also a response to the difficult issue of anti-social behaviour

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HOUSING BENEFIT ADMINISTRATION

Abstracts, PublicNet: 31 October, 2001

This report is one of The Audit Commission’s series ‘Learning from Inspection’. It draws on the best value inspections of council’s benefit departments which revealed wide variations in performance. While most councils process claims in five weeks, some take 100 days. Administration costs vary from 50 pounds per claim to 200 pounds. The variations are between similar councils and the Commission concludes that the basic problem lies in organization and management. The Commission accepts that housing benefit regulations are complex and may be part of the problem, but it urges councils to improve their services. Among the recommendations is a call for strong leadership and good performance management.Published by The Audit Commission www.audit-commission.gov.uk   <http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk

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