Headlines: September 26th, 2002

Quality of life indicators devised by the Audit Commission have been successfully piloted by local councils to measure the effectiveness of their community strategies and help in developing local strategic partnerships. The success of the pilot is likely to lead to public service wide adoption of the indicators which are set to become powerful levers of policy.The 32 cross-cutting indicators cover social, economic and environmental issues and they have been piloted by 90 councils. The indicators cover a broader area than council responsibilities and they were devised to reflect the wider role of councils to promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of their area, and their new duty to work with partners to prepare a community strategy. They paint a picture of the quality of life in the local area and challenge all partners locally to address the issues within their community strategies.

As part of the pilot, MORI carried out a survey to find out the issues that people in local communities considered to be major influences on the quality of life. Activities for teenagers came out at the top of their ‘wish list’ for neighbourhood improvements with 43% support. The other issues were low level of crime’ (29%), public transport’ (27%) and facilities for young children’ (25%). At the lower end of the spectrum were health services (16%) and education provision’ (7%).

The Quality of Life indicators complement the Best Value indicators. Best value is about service delivery, but Quality of Life is about the issues that really matter to people.

The Audit Commission will report on the pilot next month and publish refinements to the indicators. Now that the credibility of the indicators has been established, their use is likely to become a top agenda issue, not just with councils but also with a wide range of Government departments and agencies, together with partners from business and the voluntary sector.