Headlines: January 18th, 1999

The Audit Commission is consulting councils and other public bodies on its plans to take on an inspection role.Inspection and audit have been given an increasing role in improving public services and the government has made clear its intention to assign new responsibilities to the Audit Commission including a Best Value Inspectorate, incorporating a Housing Inspectorate.

The consultation paper, “Developing Principles of Public Inspection”, seeks to identify the key principles on which the Commission will base its role in inspection.

Views are sought from all interested parties, including consumer groups, central government, and councils.

The Commission proposes to inspect services from the perspective of users and the public. This means ensuring that inspection cuts across boundaries between organisations and professions to assess how effectively services are working together to meet the public’s needs.

Andrew Foster, Controller of the Audit Commission, said: “Inspection should be tough but fair. The views of the public, providers of public services and other inspectors will be key in helping us develop our thinking further. In taking up these new responsibilities, the prize to be won by all involved is continuous improvement in services for local communities.”