Headlines: June 12th, 2003

The framework for assessing the performance of the 238 smaller councils has been published by the Audit Commission. The Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime was introduced for the 150 larger councils last year. The assessment will produce a single overall rating of excellent, good, fair, weak or poor .The regime methodology will consist of a corporate assessment drawing on external audit, a Benefit Fraud Inspectorate report, and two diagnostic assessments of the management of public space, and housing. Councils will be scored on ten themes: ambition, prioritisation, focus, capacity, performance management, achievement on quality of service, achievement of improvement, investment, learning and future plans.

Consultation on the Commission’s draft proposals has resulted in a number of changes. The criteria for the ‘excellent’ category has been amended so that more councils will be able to achieve this rating. The importance of partnership working and community leadership has been recognized by an adjustment of the weightings.

The Local Government Association is critical of the proposals and believes that too little account has been taken of the views of councils. It argues that the framework may provide an inaccurate picture of a council’s performance, with an inbuilt bias to report less favourable judgements.