Led a debate today at APSE's Scottish Regional Council on the next stage of Best Value in Scotland this follows on from the Best Value audit process that has recently been completed.
Having examined the recommendations made there will be a requirement for more self evaluation and improvement support will be needed. There will be a greater focus on services, outcomes and partnerships. There will be a move towards more joined up inspection with other audit bodies. The process will overview £17b of spend, 258,000 staff employed and assets of £26b.
Best Value 2 will place a greater emphasis on use of resources, its aims are to aid public accountability and scrutinise quality of service. It will assess how safe people feel, focus on the support for vulnerable elderly and homeless people and take an overall view of the quality of the local environment. Council's will need to demonstrate a clear vision and overall strategic direction. This will show clear evidence of partnership working, community leadership along with community engagement and good governance with accountability. Performance management arrangements will be a key facet of the Best Value 2 audit scrutiny. There will be an overall emphasis on the quality and efficiency of services, how quickly they are improving and there responsiveness to local need.
Support for improvement will involve officers and members from other councils. Authorities will have to demonstrate the range and quality of information held on how the council is improving and performing. As well as their ability to achieve change and their capacity for improvement. They should also be able to identify examples of best practice and the ability to self evaluate.
APSE as an organisation welcomes much of the new framework to audit Best Value in Scotland. The move towards self evaluation through good local performance management makes performance networks an invaluable tool for authorities in order not only to demonstrate existing performance but to track improvement and report on an on-going basis against the performance of peer authorities.
APSE also agrees that the framework around self evaluation shouldn’t be prescribed, however that a broad range of indicators on inputs, process, outputs and outcome measures should be gathered on a consistent and quality based approach. This should enable the examination of trends and comparisons with other authorities and therefore facilitate learning from others, identify best performers and the dissemination of good practice. Overall this approach is a natural progression of the ongoing development of a continuous improvement environment.