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Nearly 30 councils were expected to complete their self-assessments for the first stage of the controversial compre...
Nearly 30 councils were expected to complete their self-assessments for the first stage of the controversial comprehensive performance assessment this week, despite concerns the criteria for judging councils have not yet been decided.

Following the self-assessments, corporate assessment teams will be sent in. These consist of Audit Commission staff, councillors and seconded chief officers.

Between the councils' own assessments and the visit from the corporate assessment teams, which will start to visit councils on 20 May, there will be a meeting between the councils and the Audit Commission to thrash out exactly what the inspectors will be looking for.

The commission is sending out 'performance profiles' which consist of all the information held on councils, including performance indicators, Ofsted and social services inspectorate judgments and information from auditors.

Despite the commission's attempts to make as much information as possible available for councils, there are widespread concerns the system is being rushed and the weighting of different areas of councils' work has not been worked out.

Local Government Information Unit director Dennis Reed said: 'It is amazing that the Audit Commission is continuing to pursue the assessment process without having agreed weightings. Councils are being assessed on the basis of an unknown weighting. The Audit Commission keeps putting out optimistic statements, but it needs a reality check. The whole thing has the potential to be a minefield. Even if the weightings are agreed everything will be thrown up into the air as councils are going to be forced into four broad categories.'

A spokeswoman for the commission said there had been a massive response to consultation with councils which ended last week. She added: 'There has been broad support for the context but some concerns over how deprivation and levels of funding will be taken into consideration.'

Despite this, the second set of self-assessment requirements and performance profile information was sent out last week and are due to be completed by councils

by 29 May.

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