Headlines: January 11th, 2001

Optimists may well see the effectiveness of the best value initiative demonstrated in latest performance indicators on public services.The Audit Commission’s annual report on English councils, and on English and Welsh police and fire services, shows some narrowing of the gaps between best and worst performers.

Where small improvements overall are seen, it is because poor performers are catching up.

Best Value is a concept which has stretched to most parts of the public sector. In English councils, it means performance testing services to see that they provide quality services at a reasonable cost.

The worst performing councils have been given four years to catch up with the best.

The latest figures show that there has been movement in this direction. However it does not yet look like there has been sufficient movement for widespread achievement of the four year target.

Local Authority Performance Indicators Council Services Compendium for England 1999/2000 and Police and Fire Services Compendium are available on the Audit Commission’s website, http://www.audit-commission.gov .