Best value inspections to last up to four weeks

The report Seeing is Believing reveals seven stages to best value inspection which will confirm to many observers the immense workload the new regime will mean for local authorities.

Inspections may range from one to 20 days according to the report which also claims local authorities will be able to influence the length and cost of the work.

One of the many complaints during a recent Commons select committee investigation has been the potential cost to local authorities of the best inspection regime.

Regardless of the length of on-site inspection the report reveals preparations will begin up to four weeks before arrival and interviews with final reports and follow-up inspections taking a further two weeks.

The government claims extra money has been available through Revenue Support Grants to meet the cost of inspection, but doubts have been expressed by officers in local government that the full expense will be covered.

Best value will come into action on 1 April and will replace the much hated Compulsory Competitive Tendering which forced authorities to provide services on the basis of lowest cost.Wendy Thomson, director of inspection at the Audit Commission, said: ‘Best value will act as a ‘catalyst’ for improvement.

‘My aim is for inspection to learn from the best authorities about what works n improving local services, and to motivate all authorities to strive for the best. This will put inspection at the leading edge f the national debate about excellence in public services.

‘We will provide impartial and convincing evidence about improving local services for local people.’

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