Scots councils want PI review

11 Nov 99
Scottish council leaders have called for a fundamental review of performance indicators (PIs) after the Accounts Commission issued its latest set of criteria this week.

12 November 1999

Councils accept that there will need to be far more PIs to prove Best Value is working locally. But they have reservations about the number of nationally published statutory indicators and their robustness as real measures of performance.

The Accounts Commission believes it has gone some way to addressing the concerns over numbers. Its 1999 Direction, which specifies the information to be collected and published by councils for the year 2000/2001, contains 76 indicators. Although this is four more than in its 1998 Direction, the commission claims it actually represents a cut in the performance measures required of councils.

As a result of consultation over the summer, the commission has dropped seven categories.

More significantly, the new PIs are a combination of the commission's statutory indicators and the Best Value ones that were published at the beginning of the year by the then Scottish Office.

In a letter to council chief executives, Alec Taylor, the commission's senior manager responsible for PIs, said the unified package represented 'considerable progress towards councils' concern that we "get our act together" with the Scottish Executive'.

But councils want more significant changes. On Wednesday, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' strategy forum, one of its key political decision-making bodies, endorsed a recommendation calling for a fundamental review of performance information.

A policy paper said the resulting set of indicators should be 'substantially fewer in number than at present' and needed to focus on outcomes, not inputs.

Although the commission has worked more closely with councils this year, Cosla believes that a real consensus approach to PIs is needed.

This joint approach is thought to be in line with recommendations in the final report from the Best Value Taskforce, which is driving Best Value in Scotland. It is due out next week.


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