Ellie Ames 03 November 2023

South Cambs issued Best Value notice over four-day week

South Cambs issued Best Value notice over four-day week image
Image: Sinseeho / Shutterstock.com

The Government has issued a non-statutory Best Value notice to South Cambridgeshire District Council ‘following concerns about its trial of a four-day working week’.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the notice was issued ‘outside the statutory powers held by the Secretary of State under the Local Government Act 1999 to inspect or intervene in local authorities where there is evidence of Best Value failure’.

It added: ‘However, a failure to demonstrate continuous improvement may be judged to contribute to Best Value failure and the Secretary of State will consider using these powers as appropriate.’

In a letter sent today to South Cambridgeshire chief executive Liz Watts, deputy director of local government stewardship Max Soule said the DLUHC was concerned that the council was not ‘fully analysing the impacts of the trial on services or the productivity of its workforce’.

Mr Soule said the department was requesting detail on the impact of the trial ‘under section 230 of the Local Government Act 1972 to request information from local authorities’.

He said the council would be sent a data form to complete and return to the Government each week for an initial six months, but ‘the notice may be withdrawn or escalated at any point based on the available evidence’.

Mr Soule said the concerns were highlighted in local government minister Lee Rowley’s letters to the council in June and September, which requested an end to the trial.

However, South Cambridgeshire has said the Government is yet to respond to a request it made in July for a meeting with Mr Rowley.

A South Cambridgeshire DC spokesperson said: 'We have received the notice from Government, and it will be considered.'

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