Best Value

Scotland map

What is Best Value?

Best Value is about ensuring that there is good governance and effective management of resources, with a focus on improvement, to deliver the best possible outcomes for the public.

The duty of Best Value applies to all public bodies in Scotland. It is a statutory duty for local authorities, such as councils. It is a formal duty for the Scottish Police Authority and Chief Constable, the Scottish Fire & Rescue Authority and Chief Fire Officer and in the rest of the public sector it is a formal duty on Accountable Officers, such as the chief executives of NHS bodies or of further education colleges.

Auditing and reporting about Best Value

On behalf of the Auditor General and the Accounts Commission, Audit Scotland is working to ensure that our approach to auditing Best Value continues to improve and reflect the context, different accountability regimes and reporting arrangements across the public sector.

In 2023, we began a new approach to auditing Best Value in Scottish councils. The new approach continues to audit against the statutory duty but is now fully integrated with the annual audit at each council. It also includes detailed work each year, focusing on a theme across all of the councils, which will be collated into a national report.

Reports under the new approach will be added on this page from October 2023.

Frequently asked questions

All Best Value reports published since 2004 are available below.

Why is the Accounts Commission changing its approach to auditing Best Value?

  • The Accounts Commission’s approach to Best Value has evolved since Best Value was introduced 20 years ago, reflecting the changing challenges and demands placed on councils.
  • Following engagement with its stakeholders, a new approach to auditing Best Value is being introduced. This work will now be integrated into our annual audit reporting. This approach will build local audit knowledge and reduce the scrutiny burden on councils.

How will this Best Value work be reported?

  • Each year, Best Value work will be reported in the Annual Audit Reports (AARs) including annual risk based, follow up and thematic Best Value work.
  • Auditors will include a judgment on the pace and depth of continuous improvement in each council, based on their work.
  • The Annual Audit Report for each council will be reviewed by the Accounts Commission under the cover of a section 102 Controller of Audit report, once over the five-year audit appointment​. A four-year programme of reporting starts in October 2023.
  • The section 102 report will cover the latest Annual Audit Report. It will include a summary of the Best Value work and judgements reported.

Can I listen to the Accounts Commission discussion on Best Value work at my council?

What other reporting will the Accounts Commission carry out on my council?

  • Each year, the Commission will identify a theme for Best Value thematic work. The theme being examined in the current audit year is leadership, with a report on workforce innovation planned for the following year.
  • An annual overview, summarising the thematic BV findings from all 32 councils, will be compiled and reported by Audit Scotland, on behalf of the Accounts Commission.
  • Throughout the year the Accounts Commission publishes a range of other reports, giving an overview of local councils. This includes a report on council finances as well as an overview of the challenges, risks and opportunities facing the sector.

Read more about auditing Best Value:

The audit approach to assess Best Value in other parts of the public sector is under review. Further information will be added here in due course on the following:

Best Value Publications

Controller of Audit report: Falkirk Council

Falkirk Council has made significant improvements over the last two years to how it works. Now it must focus on tackling a £62 million budget gap.

Controller of Audit report: Moray Council

Moray Council must accelerate plans to transform how it works and delivers services, demonstrating it can sustain the pace and momentum to change.

Controller of Audit report: Orkney Islands Council

Orkney Islands Council delivers high quality services, valued by local communities. Now the council must shift its focus to the future, ensuring services…

Controller of Audit report: Dumfries and Galloway Council

Dumfries and Galloway Council has strong leadership and sound financial management. It now needs to deliver its plans to reform local services, keeping…