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Ministers want councils to use a new Citizen's Charter self-assessment pack as a dress rehearsal for applying for a...
Ministers want councils to use a new Citizen's Charter self-assessment pack as a dress rehearsal for applying for a Chartermark.

The pack is part of a Service First action plan unveiled this week and hailed by ministers as 'a new programme to succeed the Citizen's Charter'.

The Citizen's Charter concept remains in place but ministers have announced new criteria for drawing up and evaluating Chartermark applications. There are now nine criteria, although five appear to replicate in slightly wordier fashion the principles which have underlaid the Citizen's Charter since its inception.

New principles include the replacement of 'value for money' with 'use resources effectively'.

Cabinet Office officials claimed the phrase 'value for money' had come to be associated with crude cost-cutting, while 'effective use of resources' embraced factors such as good use of buildings and working effectively with others.

The Service First document says this will fit in naturally with the best value system.

Partnership with other providers is identified as one of the new key principles.

Public services minister Peter Kilfoyle urged councils to take advantage of the self-assessment pack, one of several best practice publications included in the package.

'In an ideal world we would like everybody to go for self-assessment as a precursor to going for the full monty, as it were,' he said.

An audit team is to be established with the Cabinet Office to monitor the quality of charters but its exact remit, powers and staffing are yet to be determined.

David Clark, chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the unit would be 'persuasive rather than coercive', adding: 'It is not intended as a secret quality police.'

The new programme also commits the Cabinet Office to staging 'ministerial workshops' in which ministers from a range of departments will meet front-line staff to discuss service quality.

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