Two Councils Accuse the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Area Assessment Regime (CAA) As "costly and ineffective".
Wandsworth & Hammersmith and Fulham to cap staff time
The councils estimate this year’s assessment cost local taxpayers more than £200,000 and tied up hours of senior management time. This is in addition to the costs incurred by the other public sector agencies involved.
Wandsworth Council and Hammersmith and Fulham believe a mix of simple performance indicators and costs data – supported by customer satisfaction scores - provide a more objective guide to service quality and value for money.
The Audit Commission will publish findings for all councils today (December 9th). The Wandsworth assessment, which includes local police, health and fire services, is expected to result in a highly positive outcome - praising the council for its strong partnership working and top quality value for money services.
The council has been consistently rated as performing excellently since 2002 when the current arrangements of yearly assessments were started. In the last published assessment (December 2008) children’s services were rated in the top ‘outstanding’ category.
Wandsworth residents pay the lowest council tax bills in the country. In a 2008 survey of UK local authorities, 73 per cent of residents said the council offered good value for money – the highest score in the country. The council also achieved the UK’s highest resident satisfaction rating for its services (75 per cent).
Council leader Edward Lister says the effort that went into meeting the assessors’ demands was a huge distraction:
“We are not going to waste another year propping up such a wasteful and poorly directed system. Our staff’s time is better invested in supporting and developing the vital local services that really matter to local people. The results that are important to us are those that tell us how well we are delivering our services. Anything else is expensive window dressing.
“It’s absolutely right that the way children are educated, older people looked after and public money spent should be simply assessed and reported. We will continue to give these key areas our full cooperation. But in other areas where the wider process has become muddled, subjective and hopelessly over-complicated we are going to call a halt to the paper chase.”
Hammersmith and Fulham leader Stephen Greenhalgh said:
December 9, 2009