Headlines: January 12th, 2007



Three quarters of single tier and county councils across the country are exceeding the Audit Commission’s minimum requirements for their use of resources and all the authorities are at least meeting those standards. The Commission said that while there is still room for improvement, this was a significant achievement that should not be underestimated.

The report, which shows more than a dozen councils meeting the highest possible scores overall, has also been welcomed by local authorities with the Chairman of the Local Government Improvement Board, Sir Simon Milton, claiming it is an endorsement of councils’ ambition to champion the cause of the people they serve and to make a difference to their lives.

The Commission’s annual assessment of the use of resources by the 150 single tier and county councils shows that more of them are managing their finances more effectively. Fifteen councils gained the highest possible overall score and the East Riding of Yorkshire authority achieved top scores under all five themes that make up the assessment. The report identifies the need for continued improvement, particularly as local government finances become even tighter and because of the efficiency targets set out in the Local Government White Paper.

Steve Bundred, the Commission’s Chief executive, said, “All residents want their councils to use limited resources in the most effective way, and these results show that councils recognise the importance of delivering value for money and better financial management. Of course there is still room for improvement, but we should not underestimate this significant achievement, with all councils meeting or exceeding our minimum expectations in this area.”

In his response to the findings, Sir Simon Milton said they were an endorsement of councils’ determination to give an ever better deal to their taxpayers while striving to improve services. They were committed, he said, to widening both access and choice, and offering opportunity for all to create vibrant, prosperous, safe and friendly places where people were proud to live. He added, “Not only are councils getting their houses in order, but also local government has a vision, a compelling argument which seeks to champion the cause of local people, to make a difference to their lives and respond to their needs, hopes and ambitions. This report gives a further endorsement to this ambition.”