Councils urged to provide better value for money

Councils in England have been urged to provide better value for money.

In its fourth annual assessment of council performance, the Audit Commission said that most councils in England are performing well, although some were “finding improvement a challenge”.

The report published the first results for councils under the new Harder Test framework. It found that 70% of councils were assessed as improving ‘strongly’ or ‘well’, although ten councils were found to be failing to deliver services of an acceptable standard.

The Harder Test gives councils star ratings between none and four. Two-thirds of councils have achieved the top two categories of three or four-star performance, while ten councils achieved only 1 or 0 stars at all.

However, in the tougher test, which measured how well councils use their resources, only three authorities achieved top performance. However, over 50% delivered more than minimum requirements and County and London councils were found to perform best in this area, with over 60% at or above minimum requirements.

James Strachan, Chairman of the Audit Commission, said: “Over the last four years, we have seen some outstanding success stories where councils have transformed their ability to deliver services that are valued by the public.

“Fewer councils than ever before are in the lowest two categories despite this being a harder test than last year, but still ten councils are failing to deliver services of an adequate standard. That said, it is widely agreed that council services must deliver good value for money and we are concerned that half of all councils are only achieving at or below what we consider to be the minimum acceptable level. Improving value for taxpayers’ money is the real challenge for the year ahead.”


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