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Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

On Wednesday, 9 April, I will publish a consultation document about the introduction of a Best Value system into probation. The consultation period will run until 2 July 2008.

During the passage of the Offender Management Bill last year, the Government signalled a move away from a target-based regime in which probation areas had to outsource a proportion of their work to a model based on the principles of best value. In discussion with interested parties, we have drawn up a proposed model for how Best Value would work and we are now consulting publicly on this.

The proposed Best Value model would apply to all services funded by probation boards and trusts. It would enable boards and trusts to demonstrate, in a transparent way, the value for money of their services, and to drive improvements in the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of their service delivery. Best Value reviews would be based around five areas—consult, compare, challenge, collaborate and, where appropriate, compete. The reviews may result in the competition of services, but only if they have shown that that would be the most efficient and effective delivery option; the Best Value process is neutral as to the final result. By delivering efficiency savings, Best Value will provide value for money to the taxpayer and, by improving the effectiveness of service delivery to offenders, it will contribute towards our aim of reducing reoffending.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office and on the internet at: