Headlines: April 12th, 2000

Councils, and all public sector workers faced with the challenge of market-testing their services, will welcome recognition from the Government that the quality and training of staff represents an important factor in delivering quality services.Such issues are among some of the new criteria councils will be able to use when they seek partnerships with the private sector under new proposals set out in a new Best Value consultation paper.

It gives councils new powers to consider issues such as training and management when assessing who is best placed to help them deliver local services.

Current legislation was introduced to prevent councils from discriminating against potential contractors by introducing ‘irrelevant’ considerations into the bidding process.

The Government now says this has prevented genuine enquiries about a potential contractor’s workforce and management practices even when such matters are relevant to the quality and value for money of a contract.

The guidance sets out how workforce issues, particularly the track record of potential partners on training issues and employment practice, can be taken into account.

Best Value and Procurement: Guidance on the Handling of Workforce Matters in Contracting is on the DETR Website at www.local-regions.detr.gov.uk/bestvalue