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INSPECTION REGIME PROMISES BROKEN

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By Mithran Samuel ...
By Mithran Samuel

Government promises of an inspection holiday for high-rated councils have not been met, according to the Local Government Association.

A report to a meeting of the LGA executive claims that some 'excellent' councils have not received a full three-year inspection holiday from service inspectorates such as Ofsted.

Moreover, while the Audit Commission has observed the regulation ban for 'excellent' authorities, evidence from LGA members suggests it has not cut inspections for 'good' councils by 25% as promised.

The news is the latest evidence of the government's foot-dragging on freedoms and flexibilities, in defiance of its principle of earned autonomy for councils.

Last month, the LGA agreed to lobby the ODPM over its failure to deliver new trading powers for councils rated 'excellent', 'good' or 'fair' in the comprehensive performance assessment (LGC, 30 April).

The LGA also revealed that the government had not made good its promise to deregulate 84 consent regimes by last month.

Most controversially, the government reneged on its promise, made in November 2002, not to cap 'excellent' and 'good' councils, which account for over half of English authorities.

'Excellent' Telford & Wrekin Council and 'good' Herefordshire Council have been targeted for capping by local government minister Nick Raynsford.

According to last week's report, top-rated councils have undergone new inspections for various partnership bodies, and arm's length management organisations for housing and supporting people schemes which provide housing support for vulnerable people.

It raises concerns about the lack of consultation by the government over what should happen to 'excellent' councils when their three-year inspection holidays come to an end.

The report also reveals issues at the other end of the performance spectrum, with concerns being raised by councils under government intervention about how much improvement they need to make before the ODPM disengages its officials.

mithran.samuel@emap.com

The ODPM is expected to propose councils that move out of the 'poor' category should have six months of light-touch intervention before being left alone.

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