Inspectors take new steps to update performance assessment process

Self-audits carried out in the wake of the Victoria Climbi’ Inquiry
report will be fed into this year’s social services star ratings
system, the Social Services Inspectorate has confirmed.

The audits of councils’ safety procedures for children, due at the
Department of Health by the end of April and which SSI chief
inspector Denise Platt said showed “promising prospects for
improving services”, are part of a broader set of evidence which
the inspectors will use to make judgements next November. Corporate
assessments of councils will also be used.

There have also been some changes to the key performance
indicators. These include the removal of two key indicators
relating to re-registrations and length of time on the child
protection register. However, the threshold required on reviews of
child protection cases has been increased and a key indicator based
on the Victoria Climbi’ Inquiry audit introduced.

New key indicators have also been introduced on the waiting time
for care packages and whether the statutory requirement to publish
a Race Equality Scheme document has been met. A new indicator on
direct payments is set to become a key performance indicator in

Meanwhile, the Audit Commission has back-tracked on plans to
increase the thresholds between categories when comprehensive
performance assessment ratings are updated in December following
pressure from council leaders.

In its finalised framework on the future of CPA, the commission has
confirmed that the scores needed for each of the five rankings –
poor, weak, fair, good and excellent – will remain the same as last

In addition, councils will be allowed to move up a category if
their core service scores improve by at least three points rather
than the five points originally proposed. This means improvement in
education or social services or in at least two other service
areas. Councils will move down a category if their core service
scores fall below 2002 thresholds.

There will also be a more flexible approach to the circumstances in
which councils can apply for a corporate assessment. Revised scores
based on new corporate assessments will be reported on a rolling
basis during 2004.

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