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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet 9 July 2012

Proposed Approach to 2011-12 Improvement Assessment

Report of the Chief Executive

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To consult Cabinet on the proposed approach to the 2011-12 Improvement Assessment.

Recommendations

1.                  That Cabinet endorse the proposed approach to the Improvement Assessment.

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 ensure that the Council complies with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

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:

3.             A corporate assessment – an assessment of an authority’s arrangements to secure continuous improvement; and

4.             A performance assessment – an assessment of whether an authority has achieved its planned improvements.

5.             Under transitional arrangements for reporting under the Local Government Measure (2009) the Vale Council was issued with a forward looking assessment of its corporate arrangements to secure continuous improvement during late spring 2010. This was followed by a backward looking (performance) assessment the following January examining progress against published local improvement objectives in the Corporate Plan 2010-2014.  The comprehensive baseline established during this period enabled the Wales Audit Office to assess improvement arrangements for the future.

6.             In 2011, the Auditor General Wales (AGW) concluded that the established baseline made review on an annual basis unnecessary and proposed that from 2011 onwards full corporate assessments would be undertaken only once every four years, unless he has significant concerns that suggest he should review those arrangements more frequently. Consequently, no corporate assessments would be undertaken during 2011-12 and from 2012-13 they would be scheduled on a four year rolling programme, the exact timing of which will be discussed and agreed with the Council. Where the AGW considers it necessary to review arrangements because of significant concerns he would not necessarily do this by agreement with the Council.

7.             No reports about corporate arrangements will be issued by the Auditor General during the intervening years and any significant developments to the Council will be reported in a formal letter, sent within six weeks of the publication of the Improvement Plan, unless publication is later than June.

8.             A further requirement in the Measure sees the introduction of self assessment which requires councils to undertake self assessments which will be used to inform their annual Improvement Assessment.

9.             The Wales Audit Office will not be issuing guidance on self assessment and instead will agree an approach with individual councils designed to address any concerns that have been identified. Their statutory (primary) role will be to establish robustness of the Council’s arrangements by assessing our self assessment. 

Relevant Issues and Options

Improvement Assessment

 

10.        WAO work to update the 2011-12 improvement assessment will involve reviewing progress against areas for improvement identified in the previous year’s improvement plan; a retrospective performance assessment of whether the Council has achieved its planned improvements; assessment of compliance with requirements of the Measure; and identification of any relevant issues/ areas for improvement.

11.        The Part 1 Improvement Plan was published on 30th April 2012 and outlines the Council’s Improvement Objectives for 2012-13. A review of the plan will be undertaken by the WAO to ensure the Council’s compliance with the requirements of the Measure.

12.        The Part 2 Improvement Plan to be published on 31st October 2012 will be significantly shorter than in previous years and will close actions relating to 2011-12 improvement objectives as identified in the Corporate Plan 2010-14. Other requirements such as the Council’s financial statement, the Annual Report of the Director of Social Services and a statement on corporate sustainability and equalities will be reported separately via web links to the relevant information.

 

Self Assessment

 

13.        In response to a previous improvement recommendation in the Auditor General’s Annual Improvement Report, the Council has been working with the Local Government Data Unit to revise service planning, which will form the basis of the Council’s self assessment.

14.        A series of pilots have been undertaken by the Customer Relations, Visible and Public Protection services to inform the self assessment as part of the service planning process for 2012-13.

15.        As a way forward, it is proposed that a review of the 3 pilot service plans be undertaken by the WAO and the outcome of this would be used to refine the revised service planning process prior to the planned roll out from October 2012, ensuring compliance with requirements of the Measure and the recommendations of the WAO.

16.        The WAO have been consulted and are on board with the proposed approach.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

17.        Audit and inspection fees for the Council will be met from existing budgets. The cost of the services provided by the Local Government Data Unit will be met from existing budgets.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

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

19.        The Council has a statutory duty to comply with the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, in securing continuous improvement across the full range of local services for which it is responsible.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.        None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.        None directly.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.        Securing continuous improvement across the full range of council services underpins the Council’s improvement work and outcomes of all seven corporate priorities.

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009

 

Contact Officer

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer

John Maitland Evans, Chief Executive

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