Local Government in Scotland Act 2003,
consultation on the guidance for Best Value, Community Planning
and Power to Advance Well Being.
The Local Government in Scotland Act was passed
in January 2003. The Act:
Provides a duty to secure Best Value.
Introduces a statutory basis for Community
Gives a Power to advance Well-Being.
However the detail for these three provisions is
to be determined in guidance from the Scottish Executive which
is currently under consultation.
UNISON gave an initial response to the Executive's
consultation on the working drafts of the guidance in November
We are now preparing our responses to the final
consultation for the deadline in June 2003.
Duty to secure Best Value
UNISON's previous response on Best Value supported
the provisions for high standards, effective management systems,
openness and transparency. However, we called for more emphasis
on quality, effective service delivery, fair employment and equality.
The latest draft on Best Value has taken on board
many of UNISON's comments particularly on equality issues in the
8 "characteristics" it sets out on the Best Value Regime. Nevertheless
UNISON wants to see more explicit references to fair employment
in the commitment and leadership characteristics of Best
On responsiveness and consultation UNISON
welcomes the obligation for local authorities to respond to needs
of employees along with other stakeholders. We would also like
to see references to trade unions as key stakeholders in this
section. Sound governance and management of resources definitions
includes positive statements on addressing staff morale and skills.
UNISON welcomes this but wants to see more definite statements
on training and development for all staff. This section should
also refer to good employment practice. We want to see equality
in the procurement process mentioned in this section, not just
in the Equal Opportunities arrangements section, as we
believe that cost should not be the only driver.
Whilst UNISON welcomes the use of review and
options appraisal, we want to see trade unions included in
the list of organisations local authorities should work with to
achieve service goals. In the competitiveness, trading and
the discharge of authority functions UNISON wants the authority
to be responsive to trade unions, as well as other stakeholders.
We welcome the inclusion of sustainable development
as a characteristic of best value, and the emphasis placed
on the views of communities and local partners, and to quality
of life indicators.
UNISON believes Equal Opportunities arrangements
are crucial to the Best Value process. We would have preferred
a duty to actively promote rather than just encourage
equal opportunities. However, we support the commitment to
equal opportunities in employment and training, and the requirement
for a programme of equal pay audits, comparability studies and
equal pay reviews, something UNISON had called for in our previous
It is essential that Best Value means Accountability
and UNISON welcomes the detail set out on this characteristic,
particularly the need to provide information in an accessible
Power to Advance Well Being
UNISON had initial concerns that the mooted "power
of general competence" was being diluted into the power to advance
"well being". However we welcome the removal of restrictions on
local authorities, whilst we have some concerns that the meaning
of "well being" can be altered by Ministers without reference
to the Parliament. Our request that the availability of suitable
and high quality jobs be included in the economic indicators
of "well being" was accepted, and UNISON supports the content
of the economic, social and environmental factors for "well being".
We welcome the guidance's discretion for local authorities to
act upon the power as appropriate, and to look upon it as a "power
of first resort" albeit kept in check by existing Scottish, UK
and EU legislation.
The guidelines emphasise how the three parts of
the Act should interrelate, and local authorities are encouraged
to use the power of well being to secure Best Value and encourage
Community Planning. The guidance lists positive examples of how
the power might be used, UNISON would wish to add the promotion
of equality not just reducing inequality.
We support the broad spending power given to local
authorities. As the Act also ends councils' Section 94 borrowing
restrictions this should increase the scope of local authorities
to improve the lives of their constituents. We welcome flexibility
in the power that it can be used for the benefit of the whole
or any part of the local authority area, for all or some of the
persons within it. At the same time we accept the limits to the
power that prevent local authorities duplicating functions carried
out by other bodies without consent, and the prevention of levying
taxes or charges, other than council tax and reasonable charges
In our previous response we agreed that Ministers
should be able to take action to amend, repeal or disapply any
enactment that prevents or hinders use of the power through secondary
rather than primary legislation, to ensure the Act is implemented
in the spirit that was intended.
We also agree that it should be Scottish Ministers
- given they are democratically elected and accountable to Parliament
- who intervene when powers and obligations provided in the Act
are abused or ignored. However we would like local authorities
to have the right to be consulted and represented prior
to such intervention.
The Community Planning Guidance is in two parts,
the first on how the legislative provisions should be implemented,
and the second providing a series of advice notes with examples
in practice. In our previous submission we welcomed the duty on
local authorities to facilitate the community planning process.
We are very clear that it is councils as democratic and accountable
bodies who initiate, facilitate and lead.
It is good that public sector partners in Community
Planning have to comply with Best Value. UNISON believes, in the
interest of good practice and equity, that all partners
in Community Planning should observe Best Value.
We welcome the Executive's inclusion of our point
on trade unions as democratic representative agencies in the list
of stakeholders who should be consulted on the Community Planning
process. It is good that local authorities also have to engage
with individuals who are "hard to reach", addressing key issues
on social exclusion. UNISON supports the flexibility and common
sense approach encouraged by the process, in the means of engagement,
adding value to existing initiatives and in supporting effective
community engagement. We support the emphasis on mainstreaming
Community Planning so it is integral to the planning and service
delivery of the local authority and other partners. It is good
to see references to the on-going training and development for
staff, board and elected members within each partner organisation.
UNISON supports the mainstreaming of equal opportunities
into the Community Planning process. We think the guidance should
go further in requiring all bodies and agencies participating
to pay regard to the equalities objectives. It is a positive requirement
that progress on equality has to be included in the obligatory
report on Community Planning.
UNISON has expressed concerns on any significant
increase in the role and powers of the Accounts Commission and
Audit Scotland. We are concerned about openness and transparency,
and advocated the establishment of an independent Quality Commission
for this purpose, to oversee effective and quality service provision,
not just address financial issues.
The Act has provisions to allow Ministers order-making
powers to establish a Community Planning partnership as a corporate
body. UNISON has consistently opposed this, believing incorporation
moves away from the local community spirit intended for partnerships,
giving too much influence to the private sector. We need more
information and time for debate and consultation on the consequences
Action for Branches
- Discuss the Local Government Act Guidance
- Check your Local Authority's position on the Guidance.
- Give your views and examples of Community Planning to the
Local Government Service Group / the P&I Team by 23 May
for inclusion in UNISON's final response to the Scottish Executive.
Scottish Executive consultation on the Guidance
for the Local Government Act
Power of Well Being:
UNISONScotland response to Working Drafts Guidance
Dave Watson - email@example.com
Joe Di Paola – firstname.lastname@example.org
@ The P&I Team
14 West Campbell St
Tel 0845 355 0845
Fax 0141 221 8953