‘Misleading’ assessment framework will damage image of social services

The comprehensive performance assessment framework published last
week “plays into the hands of the name-and shame-culture”, the
Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) has warned.

Criticising the retention of the “crude” overall performance
categories of excellent, good, fair, weak and poor, the unit said
these would “play into the hands of a media baying for blood”.

The LGIU also criticised the government for persisting with a
system that penalised councils if just one major service area was
rated as poor, in the face of overwhelming hostility from local

David Spencer, policy officer at the LGIU, described the use of
overall judgements as “misleading to the public and damaging to the

“It’s just an impossible task to say that you are going to be able
to accurately rate all councils using five categories,” Spencer

“It would be better if the whole process led to a description of
how various services are performing.”

Warning of the knock-on effect on recruitment and morale of a
council’s negative categorisation, Spencer added: “An ambitious
local government worker does not want to hang around in a council
that is labelled as failing.”

The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) welcomed the
decision to include five categories instead of four. But
chairperson of the ADSS standards and performance committee Tony
Hunter warned that pigeon-holing the work of thousands of staff
into one category was a “blunt instrument”. However, he said it was
inevitable in order to provide summary information.

Hunter said the impact of the first round of the CPA process would
depend on the tone adopted as the categories were announced later
this year. “An overly negative tone will do nothing to promote
recruitment and retention or confidence locally,” he warned.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association has welcomed the
removal of the double jeopardy rule, which would have led to a
council having its overall category limited as a result of a poor
performance in social services for adults or children.

Instead, an average score for all judgements of social services
will now be used in the final CPA calculation (news, page 7, 24

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