The pledge to cut inspections of local councils was confirmed at a meeting of the Local Services Inspectorate Forum. The plans show that there will be a cut of one third in inspection days in 2003/04 compared to 2002/03. The comparative figure for 2001/02 is a cut of 50%. The Forum is made up of representatives from Social Services Inspectorate, Office for Standards in Education, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Audit Commission, Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate, and the Department for Education and Skills Housing Inspectorate.The Forum has set up working groups to develop a revised framework for the Comprehensive Performance Assessment to come into effect in 2005/06. Their task will be to ensure that all policy needs as well as inspection interests are taken into account in the revised framework. A key feature will be an emphasis on the ‘shared priorities’ of central and local government. The groups will need to devise performance measures for the themes which emerge where there are no suitable current measures.
The most recent call for less inspection of public services came last month from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in a report ‘People and Public Services: Why Central Targets Miss the Mark.’ The report’s author, Observer Management Editor, Simon Caulkin, argued that public sector organisations should develop their own quality-based ‘routes to excellence’ to allow them to turn the rhetoric of ‘new localism’ into reality. He called for people management, not targets to be at the heart of the reform process.