Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another misleading Council email...

The Council is trumpeting it's performance in a new Independent Audit Commission Report.

The Commission's report, known as a Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), was released on 10 July. It says the Council's ambition is "well above minimum requirements ― performing strongly", the top mark available.

However great ambition isn't everything is it, how's the Council actually doing?

Well surprisingly they were given good ratings in the report.

The key summary is this:

Headline questionsTheme 2007 Score2002 Score
What is the Council, together with
its partners, trying to achieve?
What is the capacity of the Council, including its work with partners, to deliver what it is trying to achieve?Capacity33
Performance management32
What has been achieved?Achievement33
Overall corporate assessment Score33
Key to score
1 – below minimum requirements – inadequate performance
2 – at only minimum requirements – adequate performance
3 – consistently above minimum requirements – performing well
4 – well above minimum requirements – performing strongly

So in 5 years they've managed to get their "Perfomance Management" and "Prioritisation" from "at only minimum requirements" to "consistently above minimum requirements". Oh that and boost their ambitions, which you'd think wouldn't be too hard a thing to do.

On the one hand it is good, they are improving in some areas, but it's hardly the glorious praise that you'd expect such a headline to be about.

I'll not deny that the Council lacks ambition though. Where as before they would have been happy to stretch the truth in a press release they can now spin what they like in their own newspaper (Greenwich Time) and their glorious leader stands up in front of 12,000 residents at the O2 and tells a bare faced lie. Ambition's not something that's hard to come by.

The email they sent out boasting about this new review is more than a bit misleading, "Top marks for Greenwich services" it boasts.

No, that's not what the report says at all.

The report is a "corporate assessment" and it's aim "is to assess how well the Council engages with and leads its communities, delivers community priorities in partnership with others, and ensures continuous improvement across the range of Council activities." Basically how well the Council works as an entity.

As for how well the Council is actually doing in terms of it's services to us, those that pay for them, well look here.

Are "residents and businesses across the borough receiving high quality services from the Council" as the email claims?

Well this table summarises what the audit commission thought in 2005 and 2006:

Service Area20062005
Benefits - The Council's performance in providing housing and council tax benefit services. The assessment is made by the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate and is based primarily on achievement against the 2005 housing benefits/council tax benefits performance standards.44
Children and young people - The Council's performance in providing children's services, such as children's education and social care. The joint assessment is made by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (external link) and Ofsted following a review of the Council's overall performance and key indicators.33
Culture - The Council's performance in services, such as libraries and leisure, as assessed by the Audit Commission.23
Environment - The Council's performance in services, such as transport, planning and waste, as assessed by the Audit Commission.32
Housing - The Council's performance in community housing and, where applicable, housing management services, as assessed by the Audit Commission.23
Social care (adults) - The Council's performance in adult social care services. The assessment is made by the Commission for Social Care Inspection following a review of the Council's overall performance and key indicators.22

What does that tell us?

Well they managed to improve their Environment rating but on the other hand both their Culture and Housing slipped.

So is that "High Quality"? I don't think so, do you?

All told Greenwich gets a 3 Star Rating from the Audit Commission, as do nearly half of all Councils. Most of the rest, a third of all Councils, got 4 stars. 1 in 3 Councils are better than Greenwich, we're about the same as most of the rest.

"Greenwich Council: We're getting worse but doing it more efficiently!"

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