Best Value Guidance

The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 - Best Value Guidance



Local Government in Scotland Act 2003

Guidance approved by
on s1(1):

the duty to make arrangements to secure Best Value
(continuous improvement in the performance of functions)

Issued in pursuance of s2(1)(a) of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003asp1
Introduction: the Best Value framework

The statutory framework for Best Value provided by the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 puts in place formal links between:

  • statutory guidance to authorities on what arrangements should support Best Value, and how best to maintain an appropriate balance between the factors to which local authorities must have regard in securing that duty;
  • what are, whether by reference to any generally recognised, published code or otherwise, regarded as proper arrangements for Best Value, agreements for the construction or maintenance of buildings or works, accounting practices, and issues such as the prudential management of capital expenditure and treasury investments;
  • the powers and audit duties of the Accounts Commission for Scotland;
  • arrangements for scrutiny bodies to make public comment on the adequacy of local authority arrangements for securing Best Value and related statutory duties; and
  • on an exceptional basis, arrangements for intervention by the Scottish Ministers on the grounds of unsatisfactory performance.

This statutory guidance is issued by the Scottish Ministers under s2(1)(a) of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. It tells local authorities what they are expected to demonstrate in fulfilment of the statutory duties which make up the Best Value 'regime' provided by the Act. These statutory duties are:

  • the duty of Best Value, being to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in performance (while maintaining an appropriate balance between quality and cost); and in making those arrangements and securing that balance, to have regard to economy, efficiency, effectiveness, the equal opportunities requirements and to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development;
  • the duty to achieve break-even in trading accounts subject to mandatory disclosure;
  • the duty to observe proper accounting practices;
  • the duty to make arrangements for the reporting to the public of the outcome of the performance of functions.

Authorities are reminded that they are required to discharge the functions described in Part One of the Act, including observance of the duty of Best Value, in a manner which encourages equal opportunities and the observance of the equal opportunity requirements.

The Act also provides a statutory basis for Community Planning and the Power to Advance Well Being. The Community Planning process at all stages - planning, delivery or reporting - should be informed and supported by the Best Value framework. In turn, Community Planning should feed into a local authority's pursuit of Best Value by providing a way to articulate and respond to the needs of communities.

In the same way, the Power to Advance Well Being should be informed, supported by and subject to the Best Value framework. The PAWB is a function of a local authority (as are all other powers and duties) and as such it should be used in ways which are compatible with the statutory duty of Best Value and other legal obligations.

By identifying core Best Value characteristics, this guidance is intended to assist local authorities in self-assessment and in planning future improvement activity in corporate management and governance. This process can accommodate and does not replace existing business management, improvement or change frameworks in which organisations have already invested resource and which deliver results. Previous improvement activity such as EFQM, ISO, IIP and Chartermark, and disciplines such as process and metric benchmarking, all contribute towards Best Value and demonstrate commitment to its principles.

Required best value arrangements

An authority which secures Best Value will be able to demonstrate:

Commitment and Leadership

  • a commitment to delivering better public services year on year through Best Value, and acceptance of the key principles of accountability, ownership, continuous improvement and transparency;
  • elected members and senior managers have developed a vision of how Best Value will contribute to the corporate goals of the authority which informs the direction of services and is communicated effectively to staff;
  • a commitment to high standards of probity & propriety, to honour the trust given by the electorate;

Responsiveness and Consultation

  • responsiveness to the needs of its communities, citizens, customers, employees and other stakeholders, so that plans, priorities and actions are informed by an understanding of those needs;
  • an ongoing dialogue with other public sector partners and the local business, voluntary and community sectors;
  • consultation arrangements which are open, fair and inclusive;

Sound Governance at a Strategic, Financial and Operational Level

  • a framework for planning and budgeting that includes detailed and realistic plans linked to available resources, to achieve the authority's goals (including community planning commitments) at service delivery level;
  • effective performance management systems, which include the use of external comparison, through which performance issues can be identified, monitored and addressed;

Sound Management of Resources

  • making the best use of public resources, including employees, contractual agreements, ICT, land and property and financial resources - keeping a considered and appropriate balance between cost, quality and price;

Use of Review and Options Appraisal

  • an approach to review that is rigorous and robust with no areas of work protected from consideration for review;
  • review activity achieves quantifiable benefits for key stakeholders accepting that change may be necessary;
  • services are expected to remain competitive and to provide consistently good service quality; in considering opportunities for improvement a fair and open approach will be taken in evaluating alternative forms of service delivery from whatever the sector;

Competitiveness, Trading and the Discharge of Authority Functions

  • it is conscious of being publicly funded in everything it does; it has regard to obligations under the state aid rules; and it is aware of the need to conduct its business in a manner which demonstrates appropriate competitive practice;
  • account is taken of the potential economic impact of the authority's activities (particularly new activities) on the local business community and others;
  • the power to advance well being is not used to raise money, beyond imposing reasonable charges for the work undertaken;
  • where the authority's activities count as entering into an agreement to supply goods and services, the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970 is observed;
  • the requirement to keep trading accounts under proper accounting practice is observed where appropriate to the authority's activities, in order to provide a transparent audit trail;

Sustainable Development

  • contribution to the achievement of sustainable development - consideration of the social, economic and environmental impacts of activities and decisions both in the shorter and the longer term;

Equal Opportunities Arrangements

  • a culture which encourages both equal opportunities and the observance of the equal opportunities requirements;
  • measures are in place to meet the UK-wide equal opportunities requirements e.g.

Equal Pay Act 1970
Sex Discrimination Act 1975
Race Relations Act 1976 as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
Disability Discrimination Act 1995

and all relevant subordinate legislation made under these Acts;

  • adoption of the meaning of "equal opportunities" as is set out in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, namely, "the prevention, elimination or regulation of discrimination between persons on the grounds of sex or marital status, on racial grounds or on grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation, language or social origin or of other personal attributes, including beliefs or opinions, such as religious beliefs or political beliefs";

Joint Working

  • a culture which encourages joint working and service provision where this will contribute to better services and customer focused outcomes;


  • the use of public performance reporting so that stakeholders are told what quality of service is being delivered and what they can expect in the future.

The Scottish Ministers

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