Where you live is what you get in Wales

25 May 00
The quality of Welsh council services varies widely and falls below that of their English counterparts in many areas, the Audit Commission said this week.

26 May 2000

Its report, Local Authority performance indicators: council services in Wales 1998/99, revealed large variations between similar councils. The average performance levels of Welsh town halls are lower than that of English local authorities in two-thirds of the areas examined by the authors.

Audit Commission controller Andrew Foster said some councils had made significant progress in improving local services over the past two years, while others still face considerable challenges in reaching Best Value targets. He added: 'The introduction of Best Value brings new opportunities for Welsh councils to focus their efforts on improvement.'

One example of the striking variations between Welsh councils focused on the speed with which town halls draw up statements of special educational needs for pupils.

Monmouthshire and Torfaen, completed 100% of draft statements within the target time of 18 weeks, while Denbighshire and Bridgend did not manage to complete any at all. The average across all councils was 61%.

The performance of councils in paying bills before small business creditors became entitled to interest also varied considerably.

More than 90% of invoices were paid promptly in Ceredigion, while Caerphilly, Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Blaenau Gwent managed less than 66%.

Sir Harry Jones, leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, welcomed the publication of the report. He said: 'On the two highest priority areas where local government is spending most, education and social services, the Audit Commission figures show that Welsh local authorities have improved since reorganisation.'

In relation to the variations in performance, Jones said: 'This reflects different priorities and circumstances. But there is no complacency in Welsh local government. Where one authority can learn from another, we will ensure that they have the opportunity to do so.'


Did you enjoy this article?