Headlines: June 25th, 2004

Scottish local council representatives hope to meet the country’s Finance Minister early next week to discuss arrangements for a review of the efficiency of the public sector in Scotland. COSLA – the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities – has welcomed the review in principle but says it is confident that after the meeting it will be able to welcome the idea fully.Following a statement from the minister, Andy Kerr, COSLA said that it understood the general thrust of the Scottish Executive’s thinking on the subject and that it shared the commitment to get as many resources as possible into frontline services for the benefit of communities. COSLA president Pat Watters said Scottish Local Government was fully confident in any review looking at public sector efficiency. “Efficiency and Best Value are our bread and butter, it is what we have done for the last ten years, we do it on a daily basis and it is what we do best,” he added.

Mr. Watters said local authorities had made a number of impressive strides to secure efficiency gains and to deepen collaboration between themselves. For anyone looking at any council in Scotland now, compared to ten years ago, the situation would be unrecognisable because internal efficiency reviews had been so good.

It was this success, he said, that meant Scottish councils did not want to be told how a review of efficiency should be done. Instead they wanted to play a full part on an equal basis with the Executive as the authorities knew best how to achieve efficiency and Best Value. “Councils have willingly embraced Best Value from day one and where it can be useful for others we are happy to export this expertise to other areas of the public sector,” Mr. Watters said.