‘Talk now’ call over best value

More than two-thirds of councils will fail to meet the requirements of best value unless they improve their consultation arrangements with local communities.

Some 67% of authorities blamed a lack of resources for preventing consultation, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 60 councils in England and Wales.

‘Our report highlights that some authorities see the introduction of best value, with its clear emphasis on consultation, as an additional burden on their already overloaded corporate agenda – a burden for which they are attempting to argue for increased government funding,’ said PwC lead partner on best value advisory services Lee Childs.

The survey will concern government officials who place a clear emphasis on the importance of consultation in providing best value across all council services. The government believes effective authorities will consult and engage with their local communities in implementing the regime.

Other authorities warned that the absence of corporate commitment, a perception of a lack of public interest, and the threat of a prescriptive central government approach in the future, all restricted the level of consultation.

Helen Kilpatrick, West Sussex county treasurer, said community consultation was a vital part of best value in refocusing resources and using them effectively. ‘Consultation has to be a priority,’ she said.

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