Cardiff council: auditors warn fragmented leadership is hitting services

1 Sep 14

Cardiff Council has been criticised by the Auditor General for Wales for not addressing weak performance in some key service areas due to what it called ‘fragmented leadership and management’.

In a report published today, auditor general Huw Vaughan Thomas said that although the council has made some progress following a change in management, a number of significant risks remain.

Improvements had been made to the financial information available about directorates, which had helped identify £50m of potential savings for 2014/15. However, the report warned that there were not detailed plans to backup this target, while delivery plans to drive service improvement that are still in the early stage of development.

Processes to ensure good governance are not being implemented, and decision-making processes were inefficient and lack transparency, the examination warned.

As a result, the report said that the challenges facing the council’s new leadership team were extensive, and it must take urgent action to address today’s findings.

‘Cardiff Council, like all local authorities across Wales, is facing significant cuts in funding,’ Vaughan Thomas, said.

‘My report provides a worrying picture that the council is not doing enough to plan for these cuts in funding or to address long-standing weaknesses in its services. I hope today’s report provides the impetus to address these issues and to build on new processes and procedures which the council is starting to put in place.’

Responding to the report, council leader Phil Bale said he is under ‘no illusion’ about the challenges facing the Council on a number of different fronts.

‘The report from the Wales Audit Office makes for a sobering read and lays out in very stark terms the challenges facing the council,’ he added.

‘We are under no illusion about the task facing us and it is clear a great deal of work needs to be done to ensure the Council can keep delivering for the people of Cardiff during a time of continued financial difficulties. This means we need to think differently about how we design and deliver our services in the future working with our partners and communities.’

Bale added that, following his appointment as leader in April, the Cabinet agreed a programme of organisational development intended to respond to the ‘huge challenges’ forecast over the next few years.

The authority will be monitored in the coming months to assess the progress being made, with the WAO conducting a follow-up corporate inspection in 2015.

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