Best Value in Local Government

The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 placed a statutory duty of Best Value upon local authorities. 

Best Value provides a common framework for continuous improvement in public services in Scotland and is complemented by other aspects of Public Service Reform activity, such as Efficient Government and Community Planning.

What is Best Value?

Best value is the generic term covering the government's statutory guidelines for modernising the way local services are managed and delivered.

Best Value arrangements exist to secure continuous improvement in the performance of functions by public service organisations. Continuous improvement seeks to balance quality and cost considerations, and is achieved with regard to economy, efficiency, effectiveness, the equal opportunities arrangements, and sustainable development.

Best Value requires authorities to consider how they can improve their services by taking on board the feedback they get from both customers and employees. It also requires consideration to be given to innovative methods of service delivery.

The characteristics of Best Value arrangements

An authority which secures Best Value will be able to demonstrate:

  • Commitment and Leadership
  • Responsiveness and Consultation
  • Sound Governance at a Strategic and Operational Level
  • Sound Management of Resources
  • Use of Review and Options Appraisal
  • Competitiveness, trading and the discharge if authority functions
  • A Contribution to Sustainable Development
  • Equal Opportunities Arrangements
  • Joint Working
  • Accountability

An authority must show how it achieves each of these characteristics, strive for continuous improvement around each characteristic and prioritise where change is necessary.

The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 suggests that a successful council will:

  • work with its partners to identify a clear set of priorities that respond to the needs of the community in both the short and longer term
  • be organised to deliver those priorities
  • meet and clearly demonstrate that it is meeting the community’s needs
  • operate in a way that drives continuous improvement in all its activities
  • Who is going to check that we do it?

Best Value should be appropriate to, and proportionate to, an organisation’s: priorities, operating environments, scale of business, nature of business and should be implemented accordingly.