Local Government Association members voiced serious concerns at
its general assembly about the new comprehensive performance
assessment system being introduced this year to assess local
authorities, writes Lauren Revans.
LGA members passed a motion warning the government that the CPA
system would not work unless it was open and transparent.
But they also insisted that the system must deliver freedom and
flexibility to all councils, be accompanied with additional
resources with improvement, focus on improvement plans rather than
council league tables, and result in a lighter touch inspection
In his speech to the assembly, LGA chair person Jeremy Beecham
said there were questions about the pace of change and the
consistency of approach, but added that the Audit Commission did
appear to be listening to criticisms.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott refuted claims that the CPA
was anti-local government or anti-democratic.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Local Government
Association, Prescott said the new system would help improve
performance and sharpen accountability.
“The scheme is vigorous but it’s not just about grading
councils – slapping on a sticker saying failing and then walking
away,” Prescott said.
“CPA is about improvements. We need to know what each council
does well and where it needs support. CPA will mean opportunities
for good performers – through new freedoms and flexibilities – as
well as help for weaker performers.”
Prescott said he was in the final stages of negotiating with
Chancellor Gordon Brown for “sufficient resources” in the next
spending round, but reminded LGA members that local government
spending had already increased in real terms by 20 per cent over
the last 5 years.