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Councils reassured over 'red flags'

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The Audit Commission has moved to reassure councils the recession will not lead to a plethora of red flags on economic indicators under its new assessment regime.

Launching the framework for the comprehensive area assessment (CAA) this week, Gareth Davies, managing director for local government and housing at the commission, said the new regime would be flexible enough to assess councils’ response to declining economic conditions, rather than the conditions themselves.

“Just because worklessness is getting worse, we won’t come along and put a red flag on your area. We will only do that if there hasn’t been a response when others are doing better,” he said.

The framework gives final details of the CAA, under which green flags will be awarded for exceptional performance and red flags where there are concerns over standards.

Areas could be red flagged for taking “insufficient account of inequality”. This would include not focusing on the needs of those disadvantaged through age, disability, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Local Government Association improvement board chairman David Parsons (Con) said the framework would be a “missed opportunity” if it did not reduce councils’ reporting burden or improve co-ordination between the commission and other inspectorates.

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