Book News: February 10th, 2009

This report from Communities and Local Government assess the impact of policies over the 1998-2007 period in raising the performance of local government.

It sets out the levels of improvement since 2001, the external and internal influences on improvement, the barriers to improvement and the implications of the analysis for future local government policies.

Analysis of national performance indicators suggests that there was an improvement of 21.9 per cent between 2000-2001 and 2005-2006. The largest improvements have been in waste and culture services. There were more modest improvements in housing, planning, community safety, benefits administration and social services. Levels of improvement in indicators relating to education were smaller than those for other services.

There has been a steady increase in the numbers of authorities judged to be in the top two categories by the CPA. By 2006, 78 per cent of councils were ranked as 3 or 4 star, compared to 70 per cent in 2005, and for the first time no authorities at all were placed in the lowest CPA category.

Surveys between 2001 and 2006 also indicate that there has been a significant improvement in most local government services, but that the rate of improvement in some services has slowed during the last two years.

Public satisfaction with the overall performance of local authorities and the way in which they handled complaints declined between 2000-01 and 2003-04 but then levelled off over the following three years.

Other developments include more effective leadership by officers and elected members, an increased focus on improvement, investment of additional resources in services and robust performance management systems.

Performance improvement in local government is available from DCLG.