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Best Value Audit Report 2001 2002

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audit 2000/2001Best Value Audit Report –BVPP 2001/2002 Kirklees MetropolitanCouncilINSIDE THIS REPORTPAGE 2• Purpose of report• Overall conclusions and main findingsPAGE 3• Respective responsibilities of the Authorityand the auditors• The Best Value Performance Plan 2001/2002PAGE 4• Integrating Best Value into the Council’sbusinessPAGE 6• Performance management• Improving servicesPAGE 7• Improving services• Responding to challengeAPPENDIX 1• Statutory audit certificate and opinion Referen ce: kirkleesBVreport2001.docDate: June 2001Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001 It is our view that neither the new performance KEY MESSAGES management framework, nor the revised BV approach are likely to secure improvement in delivery without improved quality assurance Purpose of report processes. This is the report that the auditor is required to Though the quality assurance processes for provide on the Best Value Performance Plan performance measurement have developed (BVPP) under Section 7 of the Local Government slightly, this has not led to a significant Act 1999. improvement in quality. This is evidenced by Our statutory certificate and opinion are attached errors and inaccuracies in some of the at Appendix 1. performance information published in the Plan. The purpose of the report is to inform Members This Statutory audit report which was issued on and chief officers of the key issues which arose 21 June 2001: from the ...
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audit 2000/2001
Best Value Audit Report –
BVPP 2001/2002
Kirklees Metropolitan
Council
INSIDE THIS REPORT
PAGE 2
• Purpose of report
• Overall conclusions and main findings
PAGE 3
• Respective responsibilities of the Authority
and the auditors
• The Best Value Performance Plan 2001/2002
PAGE 4
• Integrating Best Value into the Council’s
business
PAGE 6
• Performance management
• Improving services
PAGE 7
• Improving services
• Responding to challenge
APPENDIX 1
• Statutory audit certificate and opinion

Referen ce: kirkleesBVreport2001.doc
Date: June 2001Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
It is our view that neither the new performance
KEY MESSAGES management framework, nor the revised BV
approach are likely to secure improvement in
delivery without improved quality assurance Purpose of report
processes.
This is the report that the auditor is required to
Though the quality assurance processes for
provide on the Best Value Performance Plan
performance measurement have developed
(BVPP) under Section 7 of the Local Government
slightly, this has not led to a significant
Act 1999.
improvement in quality. This is evidenced by
Our statutory certificate and opinion are attached errors and inaccuracies in some of the
at Appendix 1. performance information published in the Plan.
The purpose of the report is to inform Members This Statutory audit report which was issued on
and chief officers of the key issues which arose 21 June 2001:
from the audit of Kirklees’ second BVPP and the
• includes a qualified opinion, on the basis that
actions which are required.
the Authority did not distribute a summary
This year’s audit of the BVPP has, in line with the BVPP to all households in a timely manner.
requirements of the Code of Audit Practice, been This was because the Chief Executive and
integrated with the rest of the audit. Returning Officer delayed its distribution as
he judged that the document could be seen Our work included a detailed follow-up of
as a political document in the ‘run up’ to the progress against recommendations made in the
General Election first BVPP audit and an assessment of overall
progress in relation to BV. • contains recommendations which require a
formal Council response
Overall conclusions and main
• does not recommend that the Audit
findings Commission should carry out a Best Value
inspection or that the Secretary of State give Kirklees has produced a well presented and
a direction. useful BVPP. However, the Council’s own view,
with which we concur, is that its established BV The Council must consider this report and
processes will not realise the full benefits of BV. formally respond to the recommendations
Services have improved slightly overall, but this contained within it within 30 working days.
is perhaps more as a result of historical
strengths, than as a result of BV itself.
In response:
• the Authority is currently in the process of
revising its overall approach to BV including
the five-year review programme, its
corporate BV support arrangement and its
approach to the 4Cs
• a new performance management framework
has been developed and is currently being
launched.
This agenda needs to be moved forward with
vigour and with a particular focus on achieving
positive outcomes.
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 2 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
Quality assurance of performance information 1
included in the Plan was poor, and as a result
just under 10% of the required BV indicators Respective
were inaccurate. responsibilities of the
The Plan meets all other statutory requirements
Authority and the and should provide users with a useful
perspective of the Council’s performance. auditors
Distribution Under the Local Government Act 1999, specified
local government bodies are required to comply
with the general duty of BV, which is defined as DETR regulations require councils to make
making arrangements to secure continuous available by 31 March summarised information to
improvement in the way in which their functions local households and other places of residence,
are exercised, having regard to a combination of and to service users and local business and
economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The voluntary interests in such a way as to ensure
audited body is required to publish annually a fair access for the whole local community. The
BVPP, which summarises the body’s assessments normal interpretation of this is that the summary
of its performance and position in relation to BV. BVPP should be distributed to all households
The audited body is responsible for preparing the within four weeks of 31 March.
BVPP and for the information and assessments
Anticipating an April or May election, the Chief
that are set out within it, and the assumptions
Executive and Returning Officer judged that the
and estimates on which they are based. It is also
BVPP summary could be seen as a political
responsible for putting in place appropriate
document and therefore delayed distribution until
performance management and internal control
mid July 2001. This is too late for the Authority
systems, from which the information and
to comply with BV regulations. As a result we
assessments in the BVPP are derived.
have qualified our opinion on the BVPP.
Auditors should consider and report on whether
the audited body has complied with statutory Content
requirements in respect of the preparation and
The content of the BVPP was compliant in all publication of its BVPP.
respects with legislation and followed guidance
Auditors are not required to form a view on the
reasonably well.
completeness or accuracy of the information or
However, the accuracy of Best Value Performance the realism and achievability of the assessments
Indicators (BVPIs) was generally poor: published by the audited body in its BVPP.
• 8.4% of the BVPIs were materially inaccurate
2
• around 4% of the required BVPIs were
omitted The Best Value
• nearly 10% of the quoted 2001/2002 targets Performance Plan had been changed from last year’s plan
without explanation. 2001/2002
This is a matter of concern since inaccuracies and
The Authority did not distribute a summary of the omissions were raised as part of last year’s audit.
BVPP to all households within a reasonable It is evident that the quality assurance process
timescale and therefore our opinion on the Plan is which the Authority tried to introduce made only
qualified. a marginal difference. Without significant
improvement in the quality of BVPIs the
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 3 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
Authority is at risk of qualification on these 3
grounds in future years.
Other issues relating to the Plan raised at last Integrating Best Value
year’s audit have been addressed particularly in into the Council’s
terms of improved editorial review and the
inclusion of an index. business
Kirklees embarked on BV from a position of Impact
strength, with many service areas enjoying a
The Plan is well designed, readable and tradition of good management and service
communicates the main messages simply and delivery. The Authority has a reasonably robust
with clarity. Particularly impressive is the format Vision and Strategy and a strong history of
for summarising completed reviews. linking service and financial planning.
Although the Authority has an established Value
framework for Best Value which has operated
The Plan should be valuable to stakeholders in adequately throughout the past year, the
enabling a wider understanding of the Council’s Authority itself feels that this is not sufficiently
business, its Vision and Strategy and issues developed to secure continuous service
facing the Council. There is a sufficient focus on improvement.
performance and performance information to The corporate BV framework is currently
enable stakeholders to monitor progress and undergoing a radical revision, as is the published
make the Council accountable, although the five-year BV review programme.
inaccuracies and omissions noted above reduce
the usefulness of this information. Corporate framework
More up to date comparison and commentary on
Experience of the first year of BV in Kirklees has
current performance would further enable
been mixed, as in the case in many authorities.
citizen’s to gain a balanced view of Kirklees’
As described in a later section of this report, the
progress.
Authority has moved forward in some areas,
Stronger cross-referencing between the BVPP particularly in the establishment of structures to
main document and the statistical companion facilitate corporate management of the
would also be of benefit. performance of individual services.
However, the past year has demonstrated some
Recommendations
acknowledged difficulties in the process:
Ensure that future summary BVPPs are distributed to
• the five year BV review programme is all households within a reasonable timescale of
considered to be too large and insufficiently 31 March.
focused on strategic cross-cutting reviews
The Council needs to ensure that an effective quality
assurance process underpins the compilation of • individual BV reviews could be better scoped
performance indicators and targets. This should be and linked more closely to other areas of
integrated with the newly-developing performance council business
management framework.
• members have not been fully engaged in BV
Ensure that targets are changed only in exceptional or in BV reviews. Their challenge has, in
circumstances and that, where this cannot be
some cases, been more effective after a avoided, there is adequate explanation included in
review has been carried out than at its the Plan.
commencement
Include more commentary on current performance in
the BVPP on services, in particular in relation to the
estimated outturn for the year just ended.
Improve cross-referencing between the BVPP main
document and its statistical companion.
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 4 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
• during 2000/2001 the level of corporate Member awareness
support devoted to BV has diminished
There is general acceptance within the Authority
particularly after the departure from the
that Members have not been truly engaged in BV,
Authority of the former Executive Director
despite attempts on the part of both officers and
with overall responsibility for BV.
Members to remedy this. This mirrors the
• there has also been little progress in the national position and it is clear that it cannot be
development of a procurement strategy. easily addressed.
In recognition of the above, the Authority is The on-going revision to the BV framework,
currently radically revising its overall approach to coupled with very recent changes to the
BV including with the overall objective of democratic structures of the Authority (principally
increasing the corporate ownership of BV. the replacement of Service Management Boards
Changes will include: by Cabinet) may provide Members with the
opportunity to make BV deliver service • revision of the BV review programme so that
improvement. it includes a smaller number of larger, more
strategic reviews Members exercising the Scrutiny function are
also well-placed to contribute to revising the • additional resources being devoted to the
overall approach to BV as well as to individual BV corporate support for BV
reviews. • development of a procurement strategy
which will aim to ensure corporate
Recommendations consistency in the effective acquisition of
Complete as soon as possible the planned revision to both goods and services. This strategy is due
the overall approach to Best Value, including the five for launch in July 2001.
year Best Value Review programme.
At the time of writing these proposals are not
Ensure that Members, within both the Executive and sufficiently developed for us to pass comment on
Scrutiny functions, engage fully in the revised BV
them. We propose to review them as part of our approach within the new democratic structures.
on-going audit and report the results in our
Ensure that the revised five year Best Value review
annual audit letter.
programme is adequately publicised as soon as
possible, for example in the September edition of
Best Value Review Programme Community News.
Ensure that the revised approach to BV is fully Delivery of the published BV review programme
integrated with the revised performance
has been slow. Of 45 reviews planned for year 1
management framework.
(2000/2001), only 6 had been completed within
Improve project management of the BV review the year and only a further 28 were in progress.
programme so that the Authority can be confident
(Some slippage had been expected, but not to
that the revised programme can be delivered.
this extent).
As noted above, however, the BV review
programme is now unlikely to delivered as
published in the 2001/2002 BVPP.
The revision to the BV review programme needs
to be completed promptly and then
communicated to the public. The Authority needs
to be sure that the BV review process is properly
integrated into the new performance
management framework discussed below.
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 5 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
at the stage where it is realising consistent and 4
sustained improvements in service delivery.
Further development is still needed: Performance
• the new performance management management
framework has yet to be implemented,
although it is due to be launched to all Kirklees has secured improvements in the
services in July 2001. corporate structures and systems designed to
facilitate performance management, particularly • there needs to be a clear emphasis on the
of individual services. quality assurance processes being built into
the new performance management However, the Authority’s performance
framework. The Authority’s record of delivery management framework is still to be launched
of central initiatives is variable and it cannot and implemented. More attention needs to be
risk the possibility that individual service paid to quality assurance, both for the
managers will not fully implement the performance management framework and for the
framework performance information systems which will
underpin it. • the new framework for managing the
performance of corporate initiatives such as
the customer service strategy has only Performance management
recently become operational and needs to be framework
monitored to ensure success.
The Authority has improved its performance
The development of the performance management framework over the past twelve
management framework now needs to be months:
progressed quickly and actively project managed.
• there is now a stronger corporate
management structure at both officer and Performance measurement
member level, although the very recent
Based on our experience of auditing the BVPIs replacement of service management boards
contained in the Plan, we conclude that there is by a Cabinet means that the current Council
also a serious danger of the performance structure is largely untested
management systems being undermined by poor • there is now greater consistency in the way
performance measurement. We have already in which individual services report their
commented above on errors and omissions in performance
performance information. Of equal concern
• the corporate centre (again at both officer however, is the variable nature of understanding,
and Member levels) is able to monitor and even interest, in performance information by
systematically the performance of specific some individual service managers. Performance
services indicators are still too often seen as being
• a performance management framework has irrelevant to the day-to-day running of a service.
been developed. It has sound links with
existing authority processes and care has Recommendations
been taken to integrate the framework into Implement as a matter of high priority the
the culture of the Authority. performance management framework with particular
focus on quality assurance and consistency of Against the background of devolved service
performance measurement
culture it is important that time is spent on
Monitor the process for managing corporate cultural change so that historical strengths are
initiatives to ensure success. retained whilst introducing more corporate
Raise individual service manager’s awareness of the accountability.
importance of Best Value Performance Indicators. Some of the necessary developments are well
advanced, but the system as a whole is not yet
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 6 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
6 5
Responding to challenge Improving services
The Council is responsive to external challenge Taken as a whole, Kirklees’ performance is just
but priority needs to be given to ensure that above the average for metropolitan authorities.
intentions are translated into action. Although there has been a very slight
improvement in Kirklees’ overall performance Kirklees Council has received and welcomed
over the last twelve months, progress has varied external challenge from a number of sources:
between and within services.
• The Council invited peer review from the
Improvement and Development Agency and Outcomes
has developed an improvement plan as a
result of that review. Although the review Analysis of Kirklees’ estimated outturn figures for
was positive about many aspects of the 2000/2001, compared with those published by
Authority, the Council did well to accept some other metropolitan authorities in their BVPPs
of the less positive findings. demonstrates that Kirklees is slightly above
average, with a small overall improvement in • The Council has good relationships with
performance indicators across all services. This established Inspection agencies. The
follows on from a fairly strong position of relationship with the new Best Value
improvement in 1999/2000 compared with the Inspection Service is still developing but the
preceding year. response to inspections carried out so far has
However, there is no obvious pattern to been generally positive.
performance by service: improvements in some • The response to last year’s BVPP audit report
indicators have been offset by deterioration in has been patchy: for example although there
others. has been progress in developing the
The targets for the year 2001/2002 included in corporate performance management
Kirklees’ BVPP are more challenging than in the framework, there has been little
past and, if realised, represent a good improvement in the accuracy of performance
opportunity for Kirklees to improve. It should be information.
noted however, that other metropolitan Partly as a result of our BVPP audit report of last
authorities' targets are equally challenging. year, the Authority set up a good system to
The exception to the above, however, is in ensure that reports about the Authority’s
Revenues and Benefits where Kirklees’ performance were consistently and adequately
performance remains comparatively very poor. dealt with.
There is considerable evidence that this is being The new corporate BV structures and
taken very seriously by the Authority, with both performance management framework will need
time and resources being devoted to improving to ensure that intentions are more consistently
this service. translated into action.
Some of the intended actions, however, will take
time to realise benefits and the service is likely to
remain poor for some time.
Recommendation
Increase the Authority’s overall focus on outcomes
and ensure that this is integral to both the revised
overall BV approach, and to the new performance
management framework.
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 7 Kirklees Metropolitan Council audit 2000/2001
This system for dealing with external challenge
reports will also need to be revised to reflect the
changing democratic structures.
Recommendations
Ensure that the outputs from external challenge are
fully integrated in the Council’s work programme,
and that this is then incorporated into the
performance management framework
Amend the current system for dealing with inspection
and audit reports to reflect new democratic
structures.
Adrian Lythgo
District Auditor
Best Value Audit Report – BVPP 2001/2002 kirkleesBVreport2001.doc Page 8

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