(1) what procurement advice her Department has given to best value authorities on the application of the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters;
(2) how many times the alternative dispute resolution procedure has been invoked for best value authority contracts;
(3) what steps her Department has taken to assess the effect the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters in best value authority contracts;
(4) what steps her Department has taken to monitor (a) the application of and (b) compliance with the Best Value Code of Practice in Work Force Matters in best value authority contracts.
The code of practice on work force matters in local authority service contracts (ODPM, 2003) is guidance based on the Secretary of State's view that a 'two-tier work force' does not achieve 'best value'. Local authorities should have regard to the code when considering individual contracts.
The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure was developed by the TUC, CBI, the LGA—Local Government Association—and the Employers' Association for Local Government. Use of the ADR is not monitored centrally.
Communities and Local Government is carrying out a programme of ongoing research that will evaluate the impact of the local government procurement agenda as a whole. A specific strand has been to attempt to isolate the impact of the code of practice. Initial results were published in the 'Evaluation of the Local Government Procurement Agenda—Baseline Survey Report' (ODPM, August 2005). Just over two-thirds of authorities had included work force matters as a standard issue in contracts for services.
Currently, local authorities are required to certify in their best value performance plans (BVPPs) that individual contracts comply with best value requirements, including the work force requirements in the two-tier code. As part of the package of de-regulatory measures, announced in the Local Government White Paper 2006, the Department signalled the intention to remove the requirement for authorities to prepare BVPPs; provisions to do so were secured in the 'Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007'. We will be consulting on proposed arrangements for monitoring compliance with the code in future.