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Counties criticise Cipfa resilience index

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County council chief executives and leaders have branded a proposed new system to measure and monitor council resilience a “blunt instrument” with limited benefit to local government.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy has launched a consultation on an index to track councils’ financial resilience with a view to providing “robust independent challenge and support”.

But the County Councils Network (CCN and the Association of County Chief Executives (ACCE) argue the index could prove damaging and offers “no genuine solutions” to financial challenges.

Richard Flinton, ACCE lead advisor for local government finance, said the Cipfa proposals were “well-meaning”.

He added: “Naming and shaming local authorities, based on a particular dataset, could be counter-productive in the long-term when we should be looking at how, and where extra support to specific local authorities can be provided.

“It’s no bad thing to have these type of discussions, and the ACCE is open to new measures to help improve financial resilience, but we believe alternative proposals could be far more effective.”

Launching the index earlier this month Cipfa chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “Despite the financial strain, councils have been able to deliver core services and manage their balance sheets more actively than other parts of the public sector. But, unfortunately, financial management capabilities and sharing good practice have at times been hollowed out by the repeated need to cut budgets.”

CCN and ACCE have offered to work with Cipfa in a new approach that “supports learning, support and innovation across the sector.

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