The Politics of BV: New Labour’s Vision and the Policy Makers’ Agenda

Abdalla Salih


Purpose - The paper’s aim is to understand the origins and development, as well as implementation, of Best Value (BV) policy. In doing so, it explores both ambiguities in the concept and complexity in its delivery.Design/Methodology/approach - Interviews with policy advisors were carried out to explore the development and introduction of BV. Documentary analysis is used to provide contextualisation and support for the interviews and covers the period of the development of BV. To analyse the data, the study followed a critical realist approach because it recognises the significance of social, economic and political context of policy development and implementation. Research limitations/implications – There are many policy implications from the results of the paper for all local authorities. There seems to be some value in local authorities defining themselves much more as community leaders and governors rather than service deliverersFindings - BV was a politically-driven policy. The paper indicated that the development of BV policy was largely a political response to repeal the Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) Thatcherism regime as the result of a political compromise between the trade unions and the Labour Party.Originality/value - The paper makes important contributions to existing understanding about Value for Money (VFM) and BV. For example, it argues that the development of BV policy was largely a political compromise between the Labour Party and the trade unions to remove the unpopular policy of CCT introduced under a previous Conservative Government. This is in contrast to the arguments of previous studies which tend to focus on BV as part of 1980s’ and 1990s’ reforms designed to improve value for money. While the aim was to scrap CCT, the politics around the decision about the replacement policy were very important. In effect, BV is more flexible in the interpretation of VFM and the requirement to use the lowest-cost principle to guide contracting out decisions. However, it is also far more demanding in terms of the requirement to review and assess all aspects of local service delivery.

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International Journal of Business Administration
ISSN 1923-4007(Print) ISSN 1923-4015(Online)


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