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CAA introduced cautiously

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Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred has ruled out a ‘big bang’ approach to introducing the comprehensive area assessment (CAA).

He told LGC the successor to the comprehensive performance assessment, due to be introduced next year, would be “evolutionary”.

A consultation on the next steps for the CAA said the commission was more concerned with “getting things right” than trying to implement everything at once.

“In the first year we’ll start with the most important issues. We won’t try and deal with everything,” Mr Bundred said. “It’s about starting from a base and building it to get a complete and accurate picture.”

Mr Bundred said he expected CAA to be delivered in a narrative form “with red and green flags to highlight issues about services”.

But he conceded there was a thirst for more information about how CAA would operate from the local government community that had yet to be fulfilled.

Corin Thomson, the Local Government Association’s programme director for improvement, said the next consultation document due to be published in July had to answer more questions about CAA.

“The sector is still supportive of the concept,” she said. “But if the commission leaves those questions unanswered in the next stage then it will worry.”

The Audit Commission also published details of how the Use of Resources element of CAA will work. There will be 10 rather than 13 key lines of enquiry based around three themes: managing finances, governing the business and managing resources.

The report also underscored the “challenge” CAA will face in balancing definitions of what constitutes a good quality of life for diverse groups of residents living in the same area.

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