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REGULARS - AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Audit commission and social services inspectorate ...
Audit commission and social services inspectorate

Luton BC

Social services provided by Luton BC are serving most people well and have promising prospects for improvement, according to a report by the Audit Commission and the Social Services Inspectorate.

The joint review found high commitment to meeting the needs of the community had led to robust consultation processes and strong services for black and ethnic minority people.

Service users and carers expressed very high levels of satisfaction with the services received, inspectors found.

Anna Bretherton, assistant review director, said Luton must now focus on bringing mental health and daycare services up to standard.

'Given the council's track record and vision we judge the prospects for future improvement are promising,' she said.

Audit commission

Cheltenham BC

The Audit Commission has rated the housing management service in Cheltenham as good with promising prospects for improvement.

Inspectors praised the housing service, which is provided through the Cheltenham Borough Homes arm's-length management organisation, for its customer focus and 'quick and effective' repairs service. They also found a wide selection of information was made available to customers, and residents' views were actively sought on the quality of services.

However, partnership working with contractors was still at an early stage and had yet to deliver benefits in terms of value for money.

Lead housing inspector for the south Jacqueline Canham said Cheltenham Borough Homes had made 'exceptional progress' since it was established.

'To have achieved a two-star rating in such a short period of time is a real success story.'

Dacorum BC

The support services provided by Dacorum BC are good with promising prospects for improvement, according to the Audit Commission.

The service was awarded two stars out of a possible three after inspectors found services to local people and internal customers to be 'good and accessible'.

Externa l and internal users had expressed satisfaction with the service, said the commission, and plans for improvement focused on projects that would have a direct impact on the delivery of services to the community.

Regional director Judy Ralston said the council had demonstrated that it could learn lessons from past experiences and use those to improve services.

'The plans to transform customer access will provide a quicker and more responsive access to council services,' she said.

However, inspectors were concerned that Dacorum had committed considerable funding to projects without clearly identifying the impact and benefits these would have on local people.

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