Ten councils to trial assessment system

Ten pathfinder councils have been chosen to
help develop the new comprehensive performance assessment system
for English councils announced in last year’s local government
white paper.

The Audit Commission, which will develop and
manage the regime, said the “comprehensive performance assessments”
would bring much-needed clarity to a system that in the past has
made it hard to tell whether or not a council is improving

CPAs will bring together audit, service
inspection and an overall corporate assessment in the production of
a single annual “report card”, which will place the council as
either top-performing, striving, coasting or failing. Top councils
will receive greater freedoms, while failing ones will face
increased intervention.

Under current plans, the annual process will
begin with a self-assessment with councils asked to “honestly judge
their proven capacity to improve”. The results will be presented at
a case conference, where a decision will be taken on whether to
proceed with a corporate assessment inspection, although the
commission expects one will take place anyway in most cases.

The CPA itself will consist of two components
– a service assessment and a corporate assessment. The service
assessment will be based on: performance in key areas such as
social services, education, housing, benefits, environment, leisure
and culture; an auditor’s financial performance assessment; and
performance indicators. The corporate assessment will be
inspection-based .

For the 10 pathfinder councils, an assessment
team will arrive in mid-April, before feeding back to councils in
May. The commission plans to assess all 150 upper tier authorities
by September, with public reporting and action planning to take
place by the end of the year.

The 10 pathfinders

– Bolton

– London Borough of Camden

– London Borough of Havering

– Hertfordshire

– Kent

– Leeds

– Telford and Wrekin

– Wiltshire

– Wigan

– Windsor and Maidenhead

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