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New assessment regime outlined

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The Audit Commission has published details of how the much-anticipated comprehensive area assessment will work.

The publication of the framework document for the CAA confirms a number of details of the new inspection regime.

The two main elements are:

  • an area assessment that gives a narrative judgment on the overall level of public services in an area, the economic prospects and scope for improvement

  • an organisational assessment for councils, delivering a scored judgment based on external auditors’ assessments of value for money and service performance

The framework also confirms the use of green and red flags in the area assessment, with green flags highlighting exceptional performance and red flags highlighting concerns over outcomes and future prospects.

An online demonstration of the CAA.

Audit Commission chief executive Steve Bundred said the CAA represented a “fundamental shift in emphasis towards subjects people care deeply about”.

“This outcome and partnerships focus gives CAA the potential to become the country’s most user-friendly public service reporting system ever,” he said.

But responding to the framework document, David Parsons (Con), chair of the Local Government Association’s improvement board, expressed his concern that CAA would fail to reduce the burden of inspection.

“Let’s be clear - we support the principle of councils being accountable as a crucial way of helping them get better and better, but there is a danger that with the current CAA proposals, it could be a missed opportunity,” he said.

“We need something that recognises councils’ improvement; that focuses on what is important; and that delivers a real reduction in the overall burden of inspection and assessment on councils and their partners.”

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