Best value pressures auditors

Government plans to make auditors and inspectors responsible for the new best value scheme in local authorities was criticised by CIPFA, the Local Government Association and the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation last week.

Stuart Reid, the IRRV’s head of policy, said the new policy will become ‘complex, bureaucratic and adversarial,’ and said the success of best value will depend on a new framework for local government finance.

Best value is the successor to the previous Tory administration’s compulsory competitive tendering programme. Best value is designed to allow councils to judge bids for major slices of their expenditure on ‘outcomes’ and a wider set of criteria than just cost.

‘We welcome the recognition that best value needs to be underpinned by a common financial management accounting framework.

‘If the best value regime is to be effective, though, we believe the role of auditors and inspectors will need further consideration.

The proposals betray a gap in what an auditor should and can do,’ said Martin Evans, CIPFA’s policy and technical director.

The LGA agreed: ‘We are concerned that audit and inspection regime is not too heavy-handed and costly,’ said a spokesman.

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