Though councils improved overall in this year’s star ratings, published today, certain regions fared better than others and performance was higher in some outcome areas than others.
The North East was the best performing region, with 58% of authorities achieving three stars, while no authority in either the North East or North West received fewer than two stars.
By contrast, just 19% of councils in the South West of the country scored three stars and 38% received one star, by far the highest proportion of any region.
Variable performance on outcomes
Overall council performance varied significantly across the seven outcomes on which they were judged:- improving health and emotional well-being; improving quality of life; making a positive contribution; increasing choice and control; freedom from discrimination and harassment; achieving economic well-being, and maintaining dignity and respect.
In most outcome areas, performance improved since 2007, however it fell back on “maintaining dignity and respect”, where 29 councils deteriorated, 21 improved and just 11% were rated as excellent, while one-third were only adequate, and two of the 150 councils were rated as poor.
The findings reflect CSCI’s criticisms of councils’ performance on safeguarding adults in a report published earlier this month. Monitoring safeguarding referrals was judged as a strength in only six councils.
By contrast, 39% of authorities were rated as excellent for “making a positive contribution”, reflecting efforts to involve service users in the development of services and boost volunteering.
And 27% were rated excellent and 60% good in improving health and emotional well-being. CSCI said performance in this area had been enhanced by the development of intermediate care services which are helping prevent admissions to hospital and maintain low levels of delayed discharge.
The number of people funded to receive intermediate care to prevent hospital admission rose from 111,403 in 2006-7 to 134,127 in 2007-8, while those who received intermediate care to facilitate discharge rose from 127,512 in 2006-7 to 141,679 in 2007-8.
Choice and control
In the crucial area of increasing choice and control, performance was mixed with 21% of councils judged to be excellent, but 23% judged to be adequate.
The use of direct payments was a strength in just under two-thirds of councils and overall levels of direct payments across England rose sharply from 54,151 in March 2007 to 73,542 in March 2008, a hike of 36%.
CSCI said councils judged to be excellent in this area provided accessible information about services and service standards, handled complaints promptly and courteously and provided access to advocacy services.
Leadership and commissioning
Councils were also judged on the quality of their leadership and commissioning. Nearly half of councils – 45% – provided excellent leadership and more than a third were judged to be excellent in commissioning.
CSCI said excellent performance in these areas involved good strategic planning, performance and financial management, links with partners and workforce planning.