Auditors plan to repair council's reputation

Contributed by editor on Jan 07, 2005 - 05:08 PM


The annual ‘health check’ carried out by auditors on Shepway Council includes measures to try to break away from the problems that have damaged the council’s reputation

The report, carried out by District Auditor, Darren Wells, says that although the council is operating under ‘severe financial pressure’, the recent restructure of its top tier of management forms a major strand of the council’s recovery plan.

The plan’s draft incorporates a revised set of core principles and broad priorities, says the annual audit and inspection letter. These will help to improve frontline services and raise the wellbeing of the district. 

The recovery plan also sets out to tackle the main weaknesses identified when the council was inspected under the Audit Commission’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment programme, says the report.

But the auditor’s letter says the council should consider refining the plan to identify the actions needed to achieve the objectives and should set targets against which progress can be monitored.

Performance, measured against the government’s Best Value Performance Indicators, has improved in 12 areas, says the report. Included in improvements were recycling rates, accuracy of processing housing benefit claims, speed of processing new renewal claims for housing benefit, invoice payments and the percentage of council tax and business rates collected.

Cllr David Monk, Cabinet Member for Finance, said he was very pleased by the audit letter.

“It acknowledges that we are operating under financial pressure but recognises that we have plans in place to improve the way the council performs. 

“We have set stringent targets and will be pushing for them to be achieved. We have taken the first step in our recovery plan by restructuring the management of the council and I am sure future inspections will be able to record even more improvements.�