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Council chiefs don’t understand how council services and policies affect residents

16 Apr 2024 3 minute read
Crickhowell, Powys. Image: Andrew Boden

Elgan Hearn Local Democracy Reporter

Senior council chiefs did not understand how a council’s services and policies affect residents who use them, an Audit Wales report has said.

At Powys County Council’s Governance and Audit committee meeting on Thursday, April 18 members will receive the “use of performance information: service user perspective and outcomes” report which was published by Audit Wales in March.

The auditors looked at performance information data provided to senior staff and councillors that was used during 2022/2023.

Fieldword

The report is based on fieldwork done between May and September last year and Audit Wales say this is an important part of arrangements to ensure that councils are providing: “value for money in the use of their resources.”

Audit Wales said: “Overall, we found that the performance information provided to senior leaders does not enable them to have a comprehensive understanding of the service user perspective and outcomes.

“This restricts their ability to understand the impact of the council’s services and policies.

“We have made three recommendations to strengthen the information given to senior leaders.

Audit Wales explained that performance information was received every three months by the council’s executive management team and senior leadership teams that are made up of corporate directors and heads of service.

Senior councillors on the cabinet also receive performance reports every three months.

These provide details of progress towards the council’s well-being objectives.

Audit Wales said: “The council collects and reports on a wide range of measures and indicators of performance.

“These include some examples that seek to reflect the service user
perspective, such as customer satisfaction measures.”

But it said that most of these relate to work done by the housing and social services departments.

Audit Wales said: “In all other areas, information about the service user perspective is extremely limited or not present.”

Audit Wales do say that there are signs of improvement at the council.

Issues

Audit Wales said: “The council has adopted a new corporate plan and has made significant changes to how it reports progress against its objectives.”

“We found that it is now easier for senior leaders to identify outcomes data in its performance dashboard and therefore to understand the impact its actions are having.”

But there are still issues as the whole scope on the council’s work is not being picked up.

The recommendations are:

  • the council should strengthen the information it provides to its senior
    leaders to enable them to understand how well services are meeting the
    needs of service users
  • the council should ensure that the information provided to senior leaders
    about outcomes reflects the range of the actions it is taking to deliver its
    objectives.
  • the council needs to assure itself that it has robust arrangements to
    check the quality and accuracy of the service user perspective and
    outcomes data it provides to senior leaders.

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Erisian
Erisian
1 month ago

Perhaps we should just elect more councillors who are disadvantaged, or service users themselves and cut out the middle men? That might save a few quid.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

So much for ‘government of the people for the people by the people’. Politicians are mainly either very rich or at least very middle class who exist within an echo chamber and have little or no interest in the lives of the less privileged.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Are concillors thick ? Some, maybe. Most are just brutally insensitive and moulded into a groupthink approach to policy and service delivery ( if you can call it that!)

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