• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

‘Impressive improvements at Angus Council’, says Board of Auditors when releasing best value report

ByChad J. Johnson

Jul 5, 2022

The Angus Council has demonstrated a good pace of improvement since the last Best Value report in 2016.

This is a key finding of the Board of Auditors’ Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) on Angus Council released today (5 July). It further indicates that the council “has reshaped services and is an organization that is focused on its priorities, works well with its partners and wants to learn from good practices”.

The BVAR has been compiled by Audit Scotland for the Board of Auditors to assess how effectively the council fulfills its legal obligation to deliver best value.

The report drew on interviews with key stakeholders, desk research and other information gathering methods, including elements of the Board’s Self-Assessment Report. It was then subjected to further analysis and scrutiny by the Commission des comptes, the independent body responsible for overseeing public spending by local authorities.

He noted that performance reporting needs to be more frequent to help drive improvement and that clearer links need to be made between performance data and the impact of improvement actions.

Angus Council Leader Beth Whiteside said: “This is a very positive report. I am delighted and privileged to take over as leader as we strive to recover from the Covid pandemic. There is a lot of work to be done and I am very encouraged that the fundamentals are in place to help us all ensure a positive, prosperous and successful future for the people of Angus.

Margo Williamson, Chief Executive of the Angus Council, said: “It is gratifying that the efforts of the Council since 2016 have been recognized. This report demonstrates that, while we continue to face extremely difficult financial realities, we are a council that provides the best value for local people and ratepayers and we are well positioned to continue our concerted efforts to find solutions to these challenges while working in partnership. through Angus.

Cllr David Fairweather, Head of the Angus Council from 2018 to 2022, said: “This report accurately demonstrates the tremendous progress the council has made to reform and reshape itself in the face of severe financial restraints while continuing to deliver the highest quality of possible services to its citizens. . I am proud that this report covers the period I served as Chief in a very encouraging way, and I pay tribute to all who contributed to the preparation of this report. »

Here from Tim McKay, Acting Vice President of the Audit Committee on their website.

The key messages of the report are:

1 The board has demonstrated a good pace of improvement since the last Best Value report in 2016. It has reshaped services and is an organization focused on its priorities, working well with its partners and eager to learn from best practices.

2 The board and its partners have a clear vision for Angus. There is strong partnership and collaboration. Angus’ partners have worked well together to provide services to those who need them most during the Covid-19 pandemic. The council seeks to learn from others how to engage effectively with communities on the redesign of services required.

3 The pandemic has increased existing inequalities, hitting the most disadvantaged groups the hardest. Reducing inequality is a priority for the council and it is engaged in a range of local projects to provide support and increase opportunities for its most disadvantaged citizens.

4 The board leader and the executive director provide effective leadership. Leaders and members maintain constructive working relationships. Effective arrangements are in place to support decision-making and public scrutiny. Elected members worked together to make tough decisions to ensure financial sustainability.

5 Angus Council has effective financial management and medium-term financial planning, but has not yet fully developed its long-term financial plan. The board has achieved significant financial savings in recent years through its change program, including comprehensive service reviews. Today, growing financial pressures mean that even more radical changes are needed in the range and scale of services and in the way they are delivered.

6 Annual performance reports are used to inform elected members and the public of progress against board priorities. These reports are improving every year, but performance reports need to be more frequent to help improve. Clearer links between performance data and the impact of improvement actions are also needed.

7 Progress in integrating a board-wide performance management framework to drive improvement activities has been slow. Covid-19 has disrupted progress. Further changes are necessary if the board is to achieve its ambition of being a performance-based board.

8 Board performance improved or was maintained in three of the four key priority areas of its board plan. But in its priority area of ​​the local economy, where many indicators lack performance information, there were already difficult performance issues before March 2020.

9 The Local Government Benchmarking Framework indicators for 2021/22 show a mixed picture, with good performance in areas such as waste management, as well as need for improvement in the key area of ​​housing. The proportion of indicators in the top quartile is the highest since 2016/17.

10 In the majority of areas, people in Angus are more satisfied with their municipal services than the Scottish average.

11 The Angus Partnership for Health and Social Services is a key partner in the delivery of health and social services. Significant progress has been made in shifting care from hospitals to community and home care facilities, but changes in demand for care and recruitment challenges are resulting in unmet needs. New service delivery models are being introduced, but further changes are needed to ensure services remain financially viable.

This Assurance Report on the Angus Board reflects the Board’s progress since the 2016 Best Value Audit Reportincluding the board’s response to COVID-19.

At the next audit appointment, the best value audit will be incorporated into the annual board audit, rather than requiring a separate best value assurance report. Board auditors will follow up on the findings of this report and perform more detailed audit work on the characteristics of best value, as appropriate.

The full report will be presented to the Angus Council in September and will be available on the Audit Commission website.