Local Government – CBI backs best value

The Confederation of British Industry has urged the government to press ahead with legislation to modernise local authority services or risk losing business investment to the Private Finance Initiative and other partnership schemes.

CBI senior policy adviser Amanda McIntyre said it would be a ‘disaster’ if the government did not legislate this autumn to replace compulsory competitive tendering rules with a statutory requirement on councils to implement a system of best value in all of their services.

‘It is not only a question of billions of pounds. The modernisation of local government is at stake,’ she said.

In an open letter to the prime minister, representatives of the public and private sectors warned it was vital that best value legislation was set this autumn. It stated: ‘Business needs new ground rules to offer better quality services and build new partnership without the constraints of CCT.’

CCT has soured council relationships with the private sector in the past.

Many authorities fear that unless legislation can be brought in quickly, business will look to PFI and other schemes to fund government projects.

Local authorities are currently bound to continue with CCT until the implementation of best value. A small minority have been allowed to drop the system due to their participation in a series of best value pilot schemes.

The CCT regime constrained councils to accepting the lowest price for a service provision, whereas best value links price to quality. It also encourages the private sector to get involved with the public sector to improve service standards together.

Best value explained, page 15.

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