East Hampshire DC was among a number of authorities inspected in Hampshire as part of the comprehensive performance assessment of district councils which rates each as either excellent, good, fair, weak or poor.
The assessment of East Hampshire DC found that the council is performing well in a wide range of areas:
-It has achieved a change of direction from service deliverer to community leader and enabler through strong political and managerial leadership;
-It works well with partner organisations to build its capacity and people who work alongside the council value the council's positive approach;
-The council provides good services to local people in a number of priority areas, particularly waste collection, recycling and housing. The council has used a combination of housing expertise, planning powers and capital reserves to maintain a steady supply of affordable housing over the last ten years; and
-Financial management is strong and the council is prudent with money.
However, the assessment also found room for improvement:
-The council has not yet clearly defined its high-level ambitions - which will in turn inform its future activities. While the council sets clear priorities at a service level, it has not set out and communicated its overall priorities; and
-The council's benefits service does not have a written strategy to ensure maximum take-up of benefit and does not yet monitor the level of compliance to standards set in service level and partnership agreements.
Following today's report East Hampshire DC will continue to plan what it needs to maintain and improve its performance, with support where necessary from the Audit Commission.
Audit Commission senior manager Simon Hughes said: 'East Hampshire district council is providing good services in recycling and housing, which is reflected in improvements in performance. But the council needs to be clear on its overall priorities and how these reflect the needs of the people of east Hampshire. The council needs to continue to focus on its benefits service to ensure the current levels of performance and standards of service improve. Residents of east Hampshire will want to know what happens next. Where the council has improvements to make it should use this assessment to help it deliver improvement. We would expect the council to make its improvement plans public. We will want to track progress. The end result should be better services for the people of east Hampshire.'
Audit Commission chairman James Strachan said: 'Comprehensive performance assessment is strategic regulation. It reduces red tape and is aimed at helping improve public services. Not only is this the first comprehensive report to the public on how well councils are run - it also provides a powerful tool to make services better. The findings we have published today will form the basis for future improvement plans. The Commission will help by focusing its attention where it is necessary and most productive. The council will get maximum support without unnecessary bureaucracy.'
A summary and full report for East Hampshire DC is available from the council, and through the commission's main site at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/cpa