Swinney vows to curb excessive inspections

22 Mar 10
Scottish ministers will intervene if initiatives to streamline council inspections fail to produce results
By David Scott

22 March 2010

Scottish ministers will intervene if initiatives to streamline council inspections fail to produce results.

Finance Secretary John Swinney told CIPFA Scotland’s annual conference in Dundee on March 19 that ministers needed to take action to curb excessive levels of scrutiny.

He stressed that inspection arrangements and the size and scale of the public sector must be appropriate for the challenges that lay ahead.

Swinney added: ‘I am determined to make sure you see a meaningful improvement in the scrutiny process so that it becomes less burdensome. If I don’t see the progress being sufficiently swift, I will have to encourage an intensification of that process.’

The minister was responding to remarks made earlier by David Dorward, chief executive of Dundee City Council, which is piloting Best Value 2, Audit Scotland’s new system of measuring performance.

Dorward told the conference that the council had put the Audit Scotland’s inspection team in an office that had been vacated by child protection inspectors.

He said this partially demonstrated that ‘we are being subjected to more audits and inspections rather than less, when we now have a dedicated office for audit and inspection teams’.

Dorward added: ‘I believe that it may take some time before we see the [Professor Lorne] Crerar review objective of a reduction in the level of audit and inspection that the public sector is subjected to.’

In his 2007 report, which followed an independent review of regulation, audit and inspection in Scotland, Crerar called for a ‘significant reduction’ in the ‘overcrowded landscape’ of audit, inspection and regulation bodies.

Audit Scotland is co-ordinating activities with other inspectorates to work towards implementing Crerar’s proposals.

In his speech, Swinney said the pace of public sector performance had to be intensified ‘to ensure we can meet the expectations of the public and deliver stable public finances’.

Did you enjoy this article?