Abstracts: June 16th, 2005

The New Framework for Comprehensive Performance Assessment of Single Tier and County Councils from 2005 to 2008, published by the Audit Commission, outlines its new policy for strategic regulation. The main elements of CPA will be the same, but there will be important differences which will make it a more demanding test. These include an explicit judgement on value for money as part of the use of resources assessment and a new way of judging achievement as part of the corporate assessment. With more reliance on robust performance information and self-assessment, councils in the higher-performing categories will face fewer service inspections. At the same time the priority inspections will be focused on those councils with the weakest services.The audit will continue to focus on improvement, as seen from the perspective of service users, not providers. It will drive value for money in public services to support the interests of taxpayers. It will also deliver value for money regulation, by being targeted and proportionate to risk and need.

Auditors will look at how costs compare to other councils, but will take account of the local context and quality of services. Corporate assessments will measure a council’s achievements by looking at sustainable communities and transport, safer and stronger communities, healthier communities, older people and children and young people.

Councils will need to provide a clear rationale for their own priorities and decisions and provide evidence of this in their self-assessment. They will also need to demonstrate that they are balancing national policy objectives with local priorities.

The document is available at: http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/CPA/Downloads/June05CPATheHarderTest.pdf