Headlines: March 4th, 2008

With the Beacon Awards ceremony due to take place today, Government ministers have welcomed research from Warwick Business School showing how local authorities can innovate and improve by sharing ideas. The study, carried out over three years, evaluated the impact and effectiveness of the Beacons Scheme.

The results show the scheme, which recognises excellence and innovation in councils and promotes best practice, is an important tool in driving improvement and resourcefulness among local authorities. The researchers say that councils striving to develop believe the Beacon awards are an invaluable source of learning.

The study shows that a large majority of councils agreed the awards encouraged networking with peers and the sharing of information and ideas. More than three-quarters of authorities that visited or otherwise engaged with Beacon winning councils had made changes as a result. For their part, award winners claimed their success boosted staff morale and motivated further improvement.

The Local Government Minister, Parmjit Dhanda, said the scheme was an example of improvement through collaboration and innovation. “The most important product of the Beacons is seeing the real improvements to everyday public services that are made under the remit of every authority that participates in the awards. I know that these statistics can only improve as more and more Beacon authorities share best practice with their peers,” he said.

Other findings from the Warwick report show that 90 per cent of award winners saw their higher national profile as a benefit and half felt it raised the profile of elected members. Three-quarters of Chief Executives said the scheme was positive and almost two-thirds of all respondents felt it provided a positive, direct contribution in encouraging a focus in tangible improvements for customers and clients.