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SURVEY SHOWS THAT BEST VALUE HASN'T JUST BEEN LEFT TO THE PILOTS

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A new survey shows that best value isn't just being left to the pilot authorities. ...
A new survey shows that best value isn't just being left to the pilot authorities.

Councils across the country are applying best value principles to their work, says the snap-shot of 249 authorities in England and Wales, taken this summer, demonstrating the real enthusiasm and momentum behind the new regime.

The survey - published by the LGA, LGMB, Warwick Business School and BMG - demonstrates authorities' commitment to consultation to make sure that the focus remained on the people that matter - the public. Nearly nine out of ten councils thought that increased levels of users satisfaction were 'very important'.

Another key point is the importance of best value in forcing councils to think about standards and efficiency. Eighty-two per cent of authorities thought that providing higher quality services was 'very important' and three-quarters attached the same significance to increased cost effectiveness.

Also, councils surveyed showed a strong commitment to work more effectively with other organisations, including other authorities. This would be helped by the government giving authorities broader powers to trade than at present.

Neil Turner, chair of the LGA's quality panel said: 'Across the country, hundreds of local authorities are committing themselves to best value.

'Local government has shown it is willing and able to pick up the challenge - and opportunities - provided by best value and make it work. As a direct result, up and down the country residents will get a better performance from their council.

'However, local government can only to do so much by itself. We need legislation on best value as soon as possible to keep the momentum going.

'Local authorities are still shackled to the old bureaucracy of CCT - whilst this is still in place councils can't advance best value as much as they want to, because of the time and effort the old regime takes up.

'Under CCT, authorities don't have the freedom they need to trade and enter into partnerships with other organisations. Best value needs to be backed by legislation if the success story is to continue.'

LGMB senior research officer Jon Sutcliffe added: 'The story doesn't end here. We already have another survey underway which shows that many other local authorities are getting down to the nitty-gritty of best value and developing detailed programmes at both a strategic and departmental level.'

Jonathan Bostock, managing director of BMG said: 'The survey results will enable networking and information exchange between councils which will highlight best practice and help them prepare for government legislation.'

Notes

1. 'Best Value - current developments and future challenges' draws upon a survey of English and Welsh authorities undertaken by the Local Government Centre at Warwick Business School; and statistical analysis by BMG Marketing Group Ltd. It also includes case studies of 15 non-pilot authorities drawn from the LGA/LGMB Best Value Partnership Initiatives Database.

2. The response rate for the survey was 63% of all authorities in England Wales (249 councils). The questionnaire was completed by the officer with lead responsibility for best value in each case.

3. The report is being formally published at a seminar in Birmingham on Friday 13 November.

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