Headlines: October 2nd, 2001

Best Value – Labour’s system of ensuring local government, police and fire services are delivering quality services at acceptable prices – is to be reviewed.The review, announced by Stephen Byers, Secretary of State at DTLR comes after Audit Commission Controller Sir Andrew Foster warned recently that 60 per cent of councils were judged poor or fair in best value reviews and that half of council services reviewed were not likely to improve

A survey by the GMB union of staff working in local government also showed that that over half respondents didn’t think Best Value was delivering.

The review of Best Value will start immediately and last three months. It will aim to reduce bureaucracy and focus on raising standards, which has been neglected by some authorities who have put more emphasis on just keeping costs down.

In recognition of issues raised at the shortened TUC conference, it will also examine what can be done to protect the terms and conditions of employees when private firms are awarded contracts for council-run services. Existing legislation is not thought to be strong enough to protect benefits such as quality pension entitlements.

In a move that will please more enterprising local authorities, Mr Byers has indicated the review might lead to a relaxation of restrictions on councils working beyond their own boundaries. Successful authorities might be allowed more scope to carry out work for other authorities, or for private and voluntary sector bodies.

Link: www.dtlr.gov.uk