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Assessing how well councils interact with their communities is the major focus of a new easy-to-use toolkit being l...
Assessing how well councils interact with their communities is the major focus of a new easy-to-use toolkit being launched for councils by the Audit Commission today.

The web-based system, Knowing Your Communities: User Focus and Diversity Toolkit, will allow councils to measure how well they are engaging with residents and how well they understand and respond to their needs and aspirations.

The toolkit enables councils to undertake a self-assessment and compare themselves with other councils. It helps them plan how to improve the services they provide and the quality of life experienced by all service users and taxpayers; particularly those people who are marginalised or disadvantaged and have fewer choices.

User focus and diversity is at the heart of improving public services and is a core element of council corporate assessments under the Comprehensive Performance Assessment framework. The toolkit is an example of how the Audit Commission is continuing to encourage improvement in local government by emphasising to councils the need to focus on users and it will also help councils improve their approach and subsequent progress against the Equality Standard for Local Government.

Steve Bundred, chief executive, Audit Commission said: 'This toolkit will help councils address the new emphasis on user focus and diversity in our corporate assessments. The Audit Commission's ability to help councils identify problems and issues on their doorstep and provide examples of best practice is crucial to the increasing focus on users. Being able to measure resident engagement will assist councils to improve, plan and provide services.'

Councils which, after using the tool, feel that they need further assistance in addressing these issues will be able to contact their Audit Commission relationship manager for advice and support.

The tool can be accessed here.

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