§ Angela Watkinson
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost to local government of administering the Best Value programme was in each of the last three years. 
§ Mr. Leslie
No reliable estimates exist of the costs incurred by local authorities in complying with their duty under the Local Government Act 1999. Any such costs would have to be set against the benefits of improved services.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has commissioned Cardiff Business School to evaluate the long-term impact of best value in English local authorities from 2001 until 2005. Part of this involves an assessment of the impact of Best Value in delivering improved services, including an element of cost-effectiveness. However, this is reliant upon year-on-year Best Value performance indicator data, which is currently being collected to monitor improvements. In the meantime, we are aiming to publish the results arising from the first year's census of local authorities. The census provides the benchmark against which the implementation of Best Value and its impact on service delivery will he assessed.