How effectively can a best value review be undertaken within a local authority emergency management service?
The legal duty of Best Value requires local authorities to fundamentally review all services in order to achieve continuous improvement. They must challenge how services are delivered, compare performance with those of others, consult the local community to assess whether needs are being met and explore the potential use of competition in future delivery. 'Challenge', 'compare', 'consult' and 'compete' are referred to as the 'Four Cs' and underpin the legislative Best Value framework. This research aims to explore how effectively Best Value can be applied to the provision of Emergency Management services by U.K. local authorities. Five key factors were identified as influencing the way Emergency Management services are provided: level of funding; legislative base; service monitoring; culture and public awareness. A census of service stakeholders within all mainland U.K. local authorities was conducted. Analysis of data collected revealed a range of associations between the five key factors and stakeholder perceptions relating to Best Value implementation. This data was also used to identify and critically evaluate the application of several existing quality management models in assisting local authorities achieving the 'Four Cs' within Emergency Management. This evaluation revealed usage of these models, either in isolation or combination, exclusively within the service would not achieve the effective measurement of the 'Four Cs', nor address the perceived drivers and barriers to Best Value implementation. Using primary data and literature review findings, a specific support model applying Best Value principles to Emergency Management was developed. This support model is regarded by practitioners as having the potential to assist local authorities in achieving implementation of rigorous and comprehensive Best Value Reviews within Emergency Management.