Audit Scotland labels CPPs ‘inconsistent and unclear’

26 Nov 14

Scotland’s Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) remain inconsistent in their leadership, collaboration and scrutiny, unclear in their ambitions and uneven in their supervision, according to Audit Scotland.

A report, published today, draws on Audit Scotland’s pioneering work to develop audit tools for assessing the CPPs, which were established more than a decade ago and bring together local authorities, health authorities, and other public, private and third sector representatives to improve the co-ordination, planning and delivery of local services.

It detects distinct signs of improvement since the CPPs were set up in 2003, and says that the publication in March 2012 of a joint Statement of Ambition, agreed between ministers and councils, on better local services has lent the work of the CPPs fresh energy and engagement.

But says Audit Scotland, leadership, scrutiny and challenge remain inconsistent. ‘Many CPPs are still not clear about what they are expected to achieve and there is confusion over whether the focus on community planning should be more on local needs or delivering national priorities.

‘The lack of a coherent national framework for assessing the performance and pace of improvement of CPPs means there is no overall picture of how individual CPPs are performing,’ it adds.

‘The Scottish Government needs more consistently to hold central government bodies and the NHS to account for their contributions to community planning.’

Audit Scotland works both to the Accounts Commission, which scrutinises the finances of local authorities, and to the Auditor General for Scotland, who supervises other public bodies.

Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: ‘There has been encouraging progress over the last year but community planning is still a long way from achieving its full potential.

‘The key to a successful partnership is building mutual trust. That's not easy when each partner organisation has its own priorities and structures,’ he added.

‘With strong leadership, partnerships can then agree clear priorities provide effective challenge, and deliver change on the ground.’

Auditor General Caroline Gardner said it was all the more important in current financial circumstances that CPPs used information effectively to identify local needs and better target resources.

‘CPPs now face a double squeeze – much more is expected of them at a time of much tighter public finances,’ she said.

‘That means difficult choices for them, particularly over moving resources to longer term prevention when still meeting current demands.’

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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