Government launches consultation on Best Value Duty

The Government is seeking views from local authorities in England on what constitutes best value and what standards the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities should expect.

The consultation is looking at how local authorities interpret the guidance on best value, including the principles which cover local accountability, continuous improvement, openness to challenge and support, expectations, prevention, moral hazard and default commissioner powers and de-escalation.

The statutory guidance also sets out seven overlapping themes of good practice for running an authority that meets and delivers best value. These themes are continuous improvement, leadership, governance, culture, use of resources, service delivery, and partnerships and community engagement.

The Government wants to know if these principles and themes are relevant to Local Authorities and if they are a good way of benchmarking success. The consultation is also asking if there are other indicators which could more accurately assess best value.

RSN Chief Executive, Kerry Booth, has reservations about this one-size fits all approach:

“It is very hard for rural authorities to meet the same benchmarking criteria as their urban counterparts.  Furthermore, there are challenges for authorities who have a mix of rural and urban.  How does the Government propose to address this and ensure rural isn’t overlooked or penalised for the services provided?

“We know that taking a one-size fits all approach to metrics simply doesn’t work.  I hope the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities recognises this need for nuance as it reviews the results of the consultation in due course.”

The consultation closes on Tuesday 15 August 2023 and if you would like to take part, you can complete the questions here.


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