Audit Commission overhauls unpopular Best Value inspection scoring

11 Oct 01
The Audit Commission this week unveiled a new, less damning scoring system for its Best Value inspections regime after a plethora of complaints from councils and a two-month consultation exercise.

12 October 2001

The four-tier star system, which allocates ratings between zero (indicating poor performance) and three (excellent) remains in place.

But, as expected, the much-loathed one-line 'unlikely to improve' assessment found on some inspection reports is to go. Audit Commission controller Sir Andrew Foster had conceded that such an assessment could prove 'de-motivating'.

Instead, the commission is introducing a new system which, it says, takes account both of councils' aspirations for improvement and of the likelihood of that improvement being delivered.

From this month council services will be rated as having poor, uncertain, good or excellent 'prospects for service improvement'. The new scores will better differentiate between councils that have modest and achievable ambitions, and those that have ambitious targets without necessarily having the resources to deliver them, the commission says.

'Best Value is intended to encourage and reward striving councils,' said Paul Kirby, acting head of inspection. 'So it is right that we introduce a system that acknowledges councils' ambitions for improvement.

'This was flagged up in the responses to our consultation on Best Value, and we have taken on board the views of authorities.

'This new phrasing brings us closer to the Social Services Inspectorate in how we express our judgement about services.'

The commission has argued for closer relations between all the inspectorate agencies so that local authorities do not suffer from potentially being visited by Best Value inspectors, Ofsted and the Social Services Inspectorate in a matter of months.


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