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A new web-based resource published today by the Audit Commission and the Improvement and Development Agency shares ...
A new web-based resource published today by the Audit Commission and the Improvement and Development Agency shares the learning from the first round of District Comprehensive Performance Assessments.

Getting the Best out of District CPA draws on the experiences of audit and inspection staff, and council members and officers from seven district councils that have already been through the process.

The research explores the role district CPA plays as a spur to improvement, and also focuses on the challenges that district councils encounter in trying to sustain improvement, post-assessment.

The district councils that took part in this research found that preparing for CPA, writing the self-assessment and handling the inspection were all challenging areas to get right. Significantly, most also found that although intensive, DCPA provides an effective assessment.

DCPA helped the councils involved in this research to define their priorities by providing additional clarity and focus to existing aims. The report also found that councils themselves ultimately have the responsibility for creating the right cultural conditions to allow CPA to become a stimulus to improvement.

Audit Commission managing director for local government, housing and criminal justice, Frances Done, said: 'DCPA is successfully helping to drive up improvement in public services. This is a valuable resource for those districts still to go through CPA as it includes a wealth of advice and learning from local authorities based upon their own experiences of the process.

'The feedback from the seven districts which contributed to the research suggests that although DCPA is a challenge for everyone involved, it is possible for each district council to take steps to get the best from the process.'

IDeA's executive director, Lucy de Groot, said: 'The IDeA works to help all councils improve so that they match the standards of the best. In the case of districts, we support them in their ongoing improve ment journey in several ways. We are looking into tailoring our offerings to meet the specific needs of districts, and the IDeA has recently recruited nine senior regional associates, who have been working with district authorities on their improvement needs.

'The IDeA will also continue to highlight best practice case studies, deliver peer challenges and reviews, and provide support to the spectrum of district authorities. For example, over the last year, we have been working with one west-midlands district to support modernisation as they approach DCPA. We are confident that our input on member development, local strategic partnership support, procurement and corporate capacity, will pay dividends.'

Getting the Best out of District CPA is available here.

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