Change in hand for Best Value inspections

23 Aug 01
The Audit Commission looks set to deliver councils' demands for a lighter-touch inspection regime for successful authorities.

24 August 2001

The commission is due to publish a Best Value annual statement next month, detailing some of the lessons learnt from the first year of inspection. The new head of inspection, Paul Kirby, speaking to Public Finance, said the broad conclusion will be 'a need for more differentiation between different types of authority'. Although he avoided talk of a 'light touch' inspection regime, he said 'a wider range of approaches' was needed.

The Local Government Association welcomed the move this week. Earlier this year it called for the commission to develop a 'proportional approach to inspection, with lighter-touch inspection for smaller, lower-risk services and authorities with robust internal review and performance management arrangements'.

The inspection service last month signed a joint statement with the LGA accepting the principle that inspection should be proportional to risk. Now the association is hoping to see that principle turned into practice.

'We are confident that the Audit Commission Best Value Inspectorate is feeling its way towards a risk-based approach to inspection,' said Matthew Warburton, head of strategy at the LGA.

'But there is a lot of detail, we'd like to talk to them about how it is going to work.'

A risk-based inspection regime could be part of a package of Best Value changes. The commission has already announced plans to pilot a closer integration of audit and inspection.

It is also expanding a series of 'Hackney-style' corporate governance inspections.


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