Headlines: July 20th, 2006

The Audit Commission has published its annual review and says it shows the impact its work is having on public services as well as underlining its continued drive to improve financial management, value for money and the quality of services. “Annual review 2005/6 Getting Better Value from Public Services” includes case studies where the Commission believes its work has had a direct affect on services.The review says a highlight of the last financial year was the launch of the revised version of Comprehensive Performance Assessment – CPA – the Harder Test- for local authorities. It says the new, more challenging measure for single tier authorities and county councils showed 70 per cent of councils were rated as improving strongly or well. The review cites as an example Wiltshire County Council, where two corporate priority areas emerged from CPA, raising public satisfaction with the authority and increasing the focus on clients and users. The authority is now a 3 star council recognised by the Commission as improving strongly.

Other case studies are drawn from Castle Point, Bournemouth Borough and South Tyneside councils, Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing, Swaythling Housing Society and Notting Hill Housing Trust and Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust. In each case the Review says the Commission has had a direct impact on a specific locality.

Steve Bundred, the Commission’s Chief Executive said the Review set out the demonstrable impact of its work in public services, promoting improvement in virtually all sectors. “The majority of our work is audit-based and we are uniquely placed to help public services enhance one of the fundamentals, financial management. We also drive value for money and apply the same value for money standards to ourselves as we do to others,” he said.

During the year the Audit Commission also published a number of high-profile national reports on issues ranging from planning and governing partnerships to a paper on the future of regulation, as well as joint studies with the National Audit Office on the state of health service finances, childhood obesity and bus services.