Headlines: January 27th, 2010

Local authorities have called on the bodies that inspect them to put detailed figures on the extent to which they will cut the burden they place on councils in the coming year. The Local Government Association has published an analysis of the first year of Comprehensive Area Assessment and a list of requirements to ensure the inspection regime achieves everything it was meant to.

The LGA has also pointed out that although the Government required numbers to be put on the scale of costings and savings involved for councils, the estimates have never been shared with local government. The Association said the combined inspection approach was meant to be less burdensome in terms of both time and money but a recent survey had found two thirds of councils disagreed that it was having that effect.

Local government leaders are arguing that the inspectorates should be able to estimate projected savings for councils for the second year of CAA to show they are reducing the burden on councils and council taxpayers. The LGA said priorities for the year should also include inspectors focusing on encouraging improvement on problem issues identified in the first year, collective activity by the inspectors being more joined up and a much lighter touch treatment for high-performing authorities.

The LGA report acknowledges that the area-wide approach to inspection has been a good step and there has been progress with linking the assessment to local people’s priorities. The inspection bodies, the report adds, had to accomplish a year’s work in nine months and their efforts were appreciated.