Magazine article Public Finance

Fire Service Held Back by Poor Performance Checks

Magazine article Public Finance

Fire Service Held Back by Poor Performance Checks

Article excerpt

Inadequate performance management systems and a lack of leadership from elected members are hobbling attempts to modernise the fire service, the Audit Commission has warned.

The watchdog said there were widespread shortcomings among the 47 English fire and rescue authorities in the measurement of the services they deliver and the assessment of the value for money they represent. This 'consistent under-performance', according to the commission, is undermining the wide-ranging modernisation programme launched in the wake of the bitter firefighters' dispute of 2002-2004.

Its analysis of last summers Comprehensive Performance Assessments found only limited progress had been made on many elements of the modernisation drive because of the lack of robust performance information. Some of the key elements, such as changes to working practices and skills development, had been affected in this way, the commission concluded.

The report, published on January 12, highlighted that two-thirds of FRAs were either missing or only just meeting the minimum standard for such systems.

Study author Andy Hughes, fire and rescue service lead at the Audit Commission, told Public Finance this failing meant it was impossible for authorities to know whether they were delivering good-quality services that met community needs. …

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