Headlines: July 5th, 2002

Councils are voicing reservations about central government plans to assess the performance of councils in similar ways to how NHS trusts are compared.The Local Government Association is warning Government that new proposals for Comprehensive Performance Assessment will not work without co-operation that councils are so far reluctant to give.

It says that for local councils to respect and work with the new assessment, they will need freedoms and flexibilities to deliver change, rather than working to current tight regulation in activity and spending.

It says the process must focus much more on improvement plans, which are part of the process, than simple league tables showing best and worst.

And there is a further demand that the forthcoming Spending Review offers additional resources to help councils improve.

Councils are also calling for a delayed start to ensure the criteria are right before assessment starts.

The Government set out its proposals for Comprehensive Performance Assessment in the Local Government White Paper, of December 2001. These will be carried out by the Audit Commission, pulling together already gathered data from performance indicators, inspection and corporate governance assessments. The Audit Commission aims to draw up a score card and assign a performance category to councils. This categorisation will influence the support councils get to improve and the freedoms and flexibilities they have.