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GLOWING REPORT FOR CITY 'HELPING THOSE MOST IN NEED'

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Manchester City Council is assessed as 'highly ambitious' and performing well according to an independent report re...
Manchester City Council is assessed as 'highly ambitious' and performing well according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

The Commission's corporate assessment inspection team found the council to be highly ambitious for the city and local people, and working well with its partners. Most services are performing well and improving, although there are still some key challenges to be faced. The council has made significant progress to regenerate the city and is working hard to ensure that the economic and physical development is helping those most in need.

Dianne Thomas, Audit Commission senior manager, said: 'The progress that Manchester has made over recent years has been impressive. The city still faces many challenges and the council is very ambitious to continue to improve the quality of life for local people and strengthen the regeneration of the city. The council is well led and well managed and is focusing its efforts to make a difference in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.'

The inspectors found:

. Through strong and effective leadership from the council, the city has achieved an impressive record of economic growth and the regeneration of some of its most disadvantaged areas. The council still faces significant challenge in tackling the widespread deprivation that remains and needs to ensure that it can continue to respond at the scale and pace needed.

. The council and its partners are clear about what matters most to local people and have focused their efforts and resources to tackle these issues, such as crime and street scene improvements.

. It has clear priorities which are well understood by partners, reflect the needs of Manchester's residents and fit well with national priorities. Indeed in a number of areas Manchester has been at the forefront of the development of regional and national policy frameworks, particularly around the respect and the city region agendas.

. The organisation is well led and well managed. There is a high calibre of senior officers and senior councillors, who have strong commitment to, and pride in, the city and its ambitions. The council works effectively and imaginatively through partnerships to deliver its priorities. It is financially sound and has been successful at attracting and using external funding to support priorities for local people. However, there is still room for improvement, for example with the way it manages its assets.

. It is successfully working to address the legacy of previous economic decline, with sustained improvements to the quality of life for local people. New jobs have been attracted to the city and housing conditions have been improved. The council has made significant progress towards creating neighbourhoods of choice. There has been a notable improvement in the quality of the built environment, recognised by community and other stakeholders.

To help the council improve, inspectors recommended that the council should:

. Continue to tackle underperformance in the education service and drive up improvements in the educational attainment of its children in schools.

. Continue to work with partners to reduce inequalities in health and in particular improve the way it evaluates and monitors the impact of work to improve health, especially amongst black and minority ethnic communities.

. Continue to strengthen and improve internal management so that it can deliver its ambitions for the city. In particular the links between financial planning and service planning need to be strengthened so that it can ensure that it improves its use of resources, including achieving better value for money and managing its assets more effectively.

Manchester is rated as a three-star council, following the Audit Commission's Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA).

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