Less is heard of Best Value with the coming of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (qv) but it still exists. It was a 1997 Labour manifesto promise to replace the Conservatives’ Compulsory Competitive Tendering. It was one of the first instruments to stress the government’s explicit commitment to high quality public services.
It was also not to be a one-off but to challenge local authorities – Best Value runs the whole gamut of local services – to continuous improvements in service costs and quality.
Best Value is based on 12 principles. These are that the duty of Best Value is one owed by councils to council tax payers and residents; achieving it is not just about economy and efficiency but also about effectiveness and quality; and the range of services affected would be greater than those which came under CCT. Also, there is no presumption that services should be privatised but there is no reason why services should be directly delivered if other methods are deemed more efficient but competition remains important but is only one tool of many. Further, central government sets the basic framework of provision; detailed local targets should have regard to national targets and performance indicators; while local and national targets should be based on performance information. Audit processes should “confirm the integrity and compatibility of performance information; external audits will monitor Best Value achievements; Last, the Secretary of State, on the advice of the Audit Commission, can intervene where a local authority fails; and the form of intervention should be appropriate to he nature of the failure.