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The first meeting of the shadow board of the improvement service for local government was held today. ...
The first meeting of the shadow board of the improvement service for local government was held today.

Afterwards finance and public services minister Andy Kerr said that by working in close partnership with local government through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and SOLACE to put the service in place, the executive was provide help to local authorities and their partners to support continuous improvement in service delivery.

He added:

'The improved delivery of public services is a priority for the executive and local government. This meeting is the first step forward to making the new service a reality.

'We must focus on the needs of the people who use frontline services to ensure improved delivery. By working in close partnership with local authorities we will deliver this shared priority and help to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.

'Many of the services provided by local government are excellent but we must keep improving for all people across Scotland. That is the aim of the service - working closely with local authorities to ensure the improved delivery of frontline services focused on the needs of the people who use them.

'That is why the development of this new improvement service is so significant. I am sure it will play a crucial role in driving up standards in the delivery of public services. once established.

'It could do this in a number of ways, including:

* Identifying and communicating good practice across councils and partners to drive forward service improvement across Scotland

* Promoting a real culture of learning across local government and its partners, so we can keep responding to the changing needs of people across Scotland

* Investing in the skills of councils for both staff and elected members

* Supporting progress in delivering better public services against the backdrop of the duty of best value and the new best value audit, announced last week by the Accounts Commission

'W e all want this new service to work in partnership - in a way that means ultimately, the customer will notice the changes which it brings about - the improved delivery of public services.'

COSLA president Pat Watters said:

'The development of an improvement service is not about starting from a zero base. We already have councils delivering first-class services throughout Scotland and coming up with innovative solutions to complex situations.

'The improvement service should be something that councils feel ownership of and something that councils can tap into to build on current good practice. It will enable councils to find out what has worked well and been successful elsewhere and allow them to make use of this in their own local situation where they feel it is appropriate to do so.

'All of Scotland's councils strive to continually improve the services they deliver to the communities they are elected to represent and a key component of this is to have a well informed and highly skilled workforce.

'The improvement service will hopefully go some way towards once more making local government a genuine first choice career for graduates and allow us to recruit and retain high quality staff within local government.'

SOLACE chair Douglas Sinclair said:

'Continuous improvement is now a statutory duty on Scottish councils. But that can only be delivered with much greater investment in Scotland's 280,000 local government employees, to provide better service for the public. The creation of the improvement service is a crucial step forward.'

Members of the shadow board are:

Andy Kerr, minister for finance and public services

Leslie Evans, head of public services group, Scottish Executive

Pat Watters, president of the COSLA

Corrie McChord, vice president of COSLA

Douglas Sinclair, president of the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives

Keith Yates, vice president of SOLACE

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