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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting 30th November 2011

 

Report of the Leader of the Council

 

Auditor General for Wales: Improvement Assessment 2011 (including Corporate Assessment Update)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To advise members of the results of the assessment by the Auditor General for Wales of the Council's arrangements to secure continuous improvement.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet note the contents of the report.

2.             That the report be referred to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee and the Audit Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To keep Cabinet apprised.

2.             To provide for scrutiny and review of the Auditor General's letter.

Background

2.             The Auditor General for Wales has a duty under the Local Government (Wales) Measure (2009) to make two assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales:

- A Corporate Assessment - an assessment of an authority's arrangements to secure continuous improvement; and

- A Performance Assessment - an assessment of whether an authority has achieved its planned improvements.

3.             The Improvement Assessment Letter fulfils this duty.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             The Auditor General's letter is attached at Appendix 1 and summarises:

-  the Council's compliance with its statutory obligations to make arrangements for continuous improvement;

- the Council's progress on areas for improvement and recommendations identified in  the 2010 improvement assessment;

- a brief commentary on any relevant issues that have emerged since the last report including comments on how the Council is addressing financial challenges; and

- updates to the work plan and timetable for delivering improvement assessment work.

5.             Matters of note include the following:

- The Council has discharged its minimum duties for setting improvement objectives under the Local Government (Wales) measure 2009, although there is scope to improve the way it communicates relevant information to citizens.

- The Council is well placed to address its financial challenges and demonstrates  strong and accountable financial leadership.

- Limited progress has been made in two out of four proposals for improvement made  in the 2010 assessment. These relate to the development of service plans to consistently include outcome measures and improving performance reporting so  that the Council is able to clearly demonstrate the outcome of its activities for the community and service users.

6.             The report makes one recommendation:

  - Establish a transparent programme for the development of outcome focused measures moving from reporting arrangements that focus primarily on performance  indicators and on the completion, or otherwise, of an action.

7.             The development of outcome focused measures has been identified as an area for improvement in most Welsh Councils and represents a significant challenge in the current financial climate.  The Council has recently commissioned the Local Government Data Unit to work with three service areas to develop outcome focused performance measures as a pilot. This work will inform a council-wide approach which will thereafter be rolled out to all service plan areas. There will be WAO involvement in the process to inform the corporate approach.  Appendix 2 details a draft action plan which is currently subject to consultation with the Local Government Data Unit, Wales Audit Office and relevant Chief Officers.

8.             A significant amount of work has been undertaken in addressing the proposals for improvement made in the Council's 2010 assessment and these are detailed in Appendix 3.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.             Audit and inspection fees for the Council total £280,000 plus VAT for the 2011/12 period. The cost of commissioning work from the LGDU is £6,200 plus VAT. This cost will be met from existing budgets

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.        The Auditor General has a duty under sections 17, 18 and 19 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to report the outputs from Corporate and Improvement Assessments of all improvement authorities in Wales.

11.        The Council has a duty to improve under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.        None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.        None directly.

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.        The Corporate plan 2010/2014 outlines community leadership as a priority for the Council.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.        This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.        Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Appendix 1: Auditor General for Wales, Improvement Assessment (including Corporate Assessment) letter

Appendix 2: Development & Implementation Plan: Outcome Focused Measures

Appendix 3: Progress Made Against Recommendations - Corporate Assessment 2010

Contact Officer

John Maitland Evans

Officers Consulted

All relevant Officers have been consulted on the contents of this report including:

Corporate Management Team

Head of Performance and Development

Operational Manager Policy and Communications

Corporate Performance Manager

Responsible Officer:

John Maitland Evans, Chief Executive

 

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