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The Audit Commission has earned councils' trust by working with the grain of local government, outgoing chairman Si...
The Audit Commission has earned councils' trust by working with the grain of local government, outgoing chairman Sir David Cooksey said.

He has stepped down after nine years to become chairman of the Local Government Commission.

'In 1986 Lambeth and others were involved in rate-capping and relations with the commission were extremely fraught. The local authority associations still hadn't given the commission the benefit of a doubt,' he said.

'The decision to work more with the grain of local government and more in partnership has worked extremely well.'

As examples of the commission helping to steer political debate in local government's favour, Sir David highlighted the government's decision to give control of community care to councils and the abolition of poll tax.

'We have a lot of credibility at this moment because we are not beholden to local government or any political party. Local government has set a great deal of store by independent audit.'

He accepted Jim Butler's criticism, in his review of the commission, that there needed to be more emphasis on implementing value-for-money work locally (LGC, 18 August).

- The government is exploring the use of performance indicators to selectively remove capping, Sir David said.

The idea would be that ministers could remove centrally- imposed budget limits on councils which broke particular thresholds in their performance.

'If [service delivery] is being done well it will lead to being able to duck out of the cap system,' he said.

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