New help is on offer to local councils to help them use benchmarking to achieve ‘best value’ in their provision of services.Councils, and other sectors of public service, use the regime to market test their services and ensure they offer customers the best value for money available. A recent Audit Commission report on best value highlighted the continuing difficulty councils have with using benchmarking effectivelTwo organisations are now offering a single gateway to benchmarking help. They are the Improvement and Development Agency, funded by the Government to aid improvement of councils, and the PSBS (Public Sector Benchmarking Service), a Customs and Excise and Cabinet Office joint venture supplying an advisory service on benchmarking for anyone working in the Public Sector.
The Local Government Benchmarking Sign Posting Service will offer, via the Internet and a helpdesk, information about what benchmarking involves, local authority benchmarking clubs, potential benchmarking partners both inside and outside the public sector, good practice and case studies. It amounts to a mix of the full range of PSBS services plus information collated by the IDeA on local authority projects and networks.Some councils already using the PSBS include Knowsley Borough Council, which is reviewing payroll and creditor functions, and Tamworth Borough Council, which is reviewing leisure services.