been completed and shows that authorities are making good progress in
tackling the challenges of best value.
Each year best value authorities, councils, police, fire, transport and
waste disposal authorities and national parks are required to prepare a best
value performance plan (BVPP) setting out how they are going to continually
improve their services. A summary of the plan has to be distributed widely
amongst the local community. The BVPP is audited to see if it includes the
relevant information, and that the community is informed about the
authority's achievements and intentions.
There has been an improvement in the overall standard of the BVPPs produced
by authorities for year 2 of best value. Four hundred and thirteen
authorities (78 per cent) produced BVPPs that were compliant with the
statutory requirements and given unqualified or 'clean' opinions by their
auditors' compared to 388 authorities (74 per cent) last year.
In the remaining 116 authorities (22 per cent) there were omissions or
inaccuracies and auditors gave qualified opinions. Only 16 authorities (3
per cent) were given adverse opinions (the most serious audit criticism of
the BVPP), compared to 33 authorities (6 per cent) last year.
At authorities where the audit opinions were qualified the most common
reason was inadequate systems for producing accurate performance indicators.
The commission's view is that reliable information about an authority's
performance is a key element of the corporate management arrangements. We
urge these authorities to review their performance information systems.
The immediate message from this year's audits of BVPPs is that authorities
are getting better at the processes and procedures that lead to the annual
performance plans. We will be analysing the information in the plans and
audit reports and will publish in the autumn the results of this work which
will look at substantive service improvements as well as these procedures
We have collected all the BVPPs published by authorities and will be putting
these plans plus the audit reports onto our website.
Andrew Foster, the controller of the Audit Commission said:
'Councils are to be congratulated for rising to the challenge of producing
sound performance plans. Best value is all about year on year improvement,
and it is good that some of those who last year made mistakes have learned
from them. Our inspectors will be looking to see that this improvement is
carried through into authorities' reviews of their services. That is how
authorities will achieve the ultimate goal of users experiencing real
improvement in the services they receive.'