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PROPOSALS FOR ASSESSING DISTRICT COUNCILS LAUNCHED

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The Audit Commission today published its draft methodology for district councils' Comprehensive Performance Assessm...
The Audit Commission today published its draft methodology for district councils' Comprehensive Performance Assessment*, proposing a stronger focus on self-assessment and peer review.

The consultation paper 'Delivering Comprehensive Performance Assessment for District Councils' outlines a tailored approach for districts that is significantly different to the regime used for single tier and county councils.

The assessment will be based on three elements:

- self-assessment, strengthened by an external review by local government peers - this will judge the council's capacity to deliver against key priorities

- two new cross-cutting inspections, based on issues important to local people: strategic housing and planning, and management of public space

- auditor judgements on the use of resources (finance and HR)

Early consultation with local government has highlighted the importance of recognising that district councils are reliant on partnerships to help them deliver - including with county, parish and neighbouring district councils.

The draft aims to minimise the demand on council resources, as many districts don't have the capacity to undergo an intensive assessment at corporate level. Also, there is less performance and inspection evidence available for districts.

As in the single tier and county CPA, the experience of pathfinder councils will be critical in helping develop the final methodology. The Audit Commission began work with ten district pathfinders last month. These are: Allerdale BC, Ashford BC, Cambridge City Council, Canterbury City Council, Easington DC, East Staffordshire BC, Ipswich BC, St Edmundsbury BC, South Staffordshire Council, Wychavon DC.

Consultation on the draft methodology closes on 22 November.

Audit Commission controller Andrew Foster said:

'CPA for single and county councils has developed very well, with invaluable input from local government. We need a CPA regime that takes account of the different nature of district councils and their role as community leaders. We are working very closely and consulting with local government to get this right - the pathfinders will be hugely important in taking this forward, as will the councils involved as reference groups and as peers.'

Note

The government's white paper, Strong local leadership, quality public services published in December 2001, proposes extra rewards or interventions for councils based on the results of the Comprehensive Performance Assessments.

* Click herefor the full draft methodology.

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