Best Value in Local Government
The Scottish Executive and Scottish local government share a commitment to deliver better quality public services. Both have been working in partnership to develop the Best Value framework which aims to ensure that management and business practices in local authorities develop better and more responsive public services.
The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003, placed a statutory duty of Best Value upon local authorites in the discharge of their functions. This system was agreed with COSLA following a series of Best Value pilots in local authorities in the late 1990's. Statutory guidance was issued to local authorities in 2004.
Audits of Best Value and Community Planning are designed to assess local authority responses to the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003, providing an overview of a council's performance across services (and in its joint working with Community Planning partners). The audit is also designed to identify and agree planned improvements with the council. The Accounts Commission publishes a report on each Best Value audit (under the formal title of 'Audits of Best Value and Community Planning'). Copies of the Best Value audits can be obtained from the Accounts Commission website.
The Accounts Commission has completed the first round of Best Value audits of all thirty two local authorities. The Commission's overview report of the first phase of audits "Making an Impact: Overview of the Best Value audits 2004-2009" concludes that the Best Value audit has been a powerful tool for improved performance and accountability, while providing the public with a clearer picture of how their council is performing. The Commission acknowledges that local authorities have generally responded well to their Best Value duty, with effective political and managerial leadership proving central to good performance. A copy of the report can be obtained from the Commission's website.
The Commission is now taking forward a second round of Best Value audits of local authorities (often described as "BV2 audits"). BV2 audits differ from their predecessors, in that they include a stronger focus on outcomes delivered for local citizens and how well local authorities work with partner bodies. BV2 audits are founded on a proportionate and risk-based approach, so that the scope of audit work focuses on areas of particular importance and potential risk.