Magazine article Public Finance

Most Councils Pass the Tougher CPA with Flying Colours

Magazine article Public Finance

Most Councils Pass the Tougher CPA with Flying Colours

Article excerpt

The rump of poorly performing councils need to raise their game to match the majority, the local government watchdog warned this week as it published the annual Comprehensive Performance Assessment results for 2006.

The results brought good news for most town halls there are no zero-rated councils and 79% of all top-tier authorities achieved a three or four-star rating.

But Audit Commission chiefs urged lower-performing councils to accelerate their pace of improvement to prevent the performance gap from widening further.

Better-performing councils were found to be improving at a greater rate than those in lower categories: 77% of councils were assessed to be improving strongly or well.

Audit Commission chair Michael O'Higgins said: 'The CPA has proved that it is possible for councils in all parts of the country, facing many different challenges, to make substantial improvements year on year. Implicit in this news is a clear challenge to the small number of councils at the lower end of the scale that they really must pull out all the stops to emulate the achievements of their peers.

'Part of doing well is wanting to do better,' he added.

Authorities have already taken the message on board. A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council - demoted from two to one stars and the only authority found not to be improving adequately - told Public Finance that steps had already been taken to implement a programme of improvement.

A new chief executive took over in November and a senior management team was being appointed, he said.

'The more recent feedback we've had from the Audit Commission suggests we've been improving better than other single-tier councils,' the spokesman added. 'We are very determined and confident that we are going in the right direction.'

A further six councils slipped down a category, including Leeds, Leicester and Lambeth, and there are five with just one star.

Local Government Association chair Sandy Bruce-Lockhart echoed the commissions view, saying councils should not rest on their laurels.

'We must not be complacent. All councils must match the best and the best will raise our game again. …

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