03 November 2000
Seven of the 22 Welsh unitary authorities were warned that their Best Value performance plans, the strategy outlining how they will deliver services over the next year, contained significant errors and omissions and failed to comply with legislation.
In a damning report, the Audit Commission found that while a minority were making good progress, all authorities had areas of significant weakness and would struggle to deliver Best Value services.
'Our concern must be that in the absence of robust Best Value arrangements, these services will not improve and may well deteriorate,' warned Andrew Wood, director of District Audit Wales. 'Many authorities need to change their culture if they are to succeed. The next year will be a critical period.'
The criticism, just two weeks after English authorities were given the thumbs-up for their Best Value plans, highlights the continuing difficulties with the initiative in Wales.
The Welsh Assembly was forced to give authorities a three-month extension on the plans earlier this year after it emerged that many were still not ready.
The commission suggests that resistance to change, particularly from members, is hampering progress and cites 'little evidence of a willingness to challenge the status quo' from both officers and politicians.
Auditors have identified a number of areas needing urgent improvement, including a lack of member involvement, an absence of key performance information, particularly missing or flawed progress targets, and inadequate performance management across all services.