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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 23/06/2003
Starting Time of Council Meetings and Public Question Time

Summary & Purpose
Summary and purpose:

The Council will be the subject of Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) in December 2003. CPA is a single co-ordinated inspection that will result in a judgement on whether the Council is excellent, good, fair, weak or poor. The Council is in the process of preparing the corporate self-assessment and diagnostics that will be critical to the CPA judgement. This report provides an overview of the timetable and framework that applies to CPA in Waverley.

DETR Circulars 10/99 and 02/01 have, until this year, guided the Council’s approach to best value reviews and best value performance plans. New guidance, ODPM Circular 03/03, replaces the earlier Circulars and places best value in the context of comprehensive performance assessment.

Changes in best value mean that the Council no longer has to review all of its functions in a five-year cycle. This report provides a synopsis of the current and completed reviews and includes a recommendation on next steps for best value reviews.

Guidance on the Best Value Performance Plan for 2003/04 requires that it looks at performance over the past three years, and targets for the current and subsequent two years. The Performance Plan for 2003/04 must be published by 30th June 2003 and will be substantially drafted when this Executive meets.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Resource Use
Prevention and Control
and Nature
Safe, Healthy
and Active



[Wards Affected: All]

Many of the best value reviews, particularly where front-line services are involved, have a direct impact on the quality of life. Whilst a positive outcome in one area may have a corresponding negative effect in another, across all of the reviews conducted so far, a net positive effect on life quality may be assumed.

E-Government implications:

Many of the best value reviews have either an impact on the Council interface with the public or with improving access to services, which need to be absorbed into the Council’s e-government response as they are identified.

Resource and legal implications:

Best value is a vital tool for ensuring resources are aligned with the Council’s priorities and providing value for money. CPA has major implications for future freedoms and flexibilities that the Council may be able to take advantage of if it is judged to be excellent or good.

CPA for Districts – timetable and methodology

1. Clear guidance on the CPA methodology for districts, including the corporate self-assessment and diagnostics for decent homes, balancing housing markets, management of public space and benefits, is now published (www.audit-commission.gov.uk) and the Audit Commission has just completed consultation on the scoring framework.

2. The Council is in the process of preparing the corporate self-assessment and diagnostics that are critical to peer challenge and CPA inspection. 6 October 2003 marks the start of a three-day peer challenge by a Chief Executive and Leader from outside Waverley and an accredited assessor from the Improvement and Development Agency (part of the Local Government Association). Peer challenge is the first formal test of the Council’s self-assessment.

3. CPA inspection will follow for all Surrey Districts from 8-12 December. A team of up to five inspectors, working from the Council Offices, will evaluate our self-assessment and carry out reality checks. The Council will receive a score for each of 10 themes in the corporate assessment, which are: ambition, prioritisation, focus, capacity, performance management, achievement on quality of service, achievement of improvement, investment, learning and future plans. In reaching an overall CPA judgement, inspectors will bring together different pieces of evidence, including:-

Corporate self-assessment;

Accredited peer challenge (6th-8th October);

Diagnostic self-assessments of the Council’s management of public space and meeting the decent homes standard, which will be inspected as part of CPA;

Diagnostic self-assessment of the Council’s contribution to the management of the local housing market, which will not be inspected as part of CPA;

Benefits Fraud Inspectorate assessment of benefit services;

Auditor assessments of performance against the code of audit practice; and

Audited performance indicators, inspection reports and plan assessments (such as the asset management plan, housing strategy and best value performance plan).

4. The outcome of CPA will be a management report and a single judgement on the council’s performance and capacity to improve services. The five categories of judgement are excellent, good, fair, weak and poor.

Best Value Performance Plan

5. The Council will publish the Performance Plan for 2003/04 on 30 June. An important clarification from previous years is that the primary audience for the plan is elected members and officers, although the plan must be available for public viewing. The approach being taken by your officers this year is to update and roll forward the Performance Plan for 2002/03, taking into account changes to the Council’s priorities following the change in administration at the recent local elections. Circular 03/03 requires that the performance plan must include:-

A summary of the Council’s strategic objectives and priorities for improvement;

Progress and outcomes over the last three years;

Performance over the last year on all performance indicators; and

Targets and plans for improvement over the current and subsequent two years.

6. There is no longer a requirement to publish a summary of the plan and send it to every household in the Borough. However, the council is required to publish a summary of performance and make it available to local people by 31 March each year. Accordingly, summary performance information was included in the council tax leaflet for 2003/04.

The Best Value Review Programme

7. Circular 03/03 requires the Council to focus its best value reviews on priority areas arising from CPA and other considerations. Best Value Reviews should be fewer and more strategic. Circular 03/03 urges a proportionate approach, recognising that full-blown best value reviews are likely to be important only where there is:-

A need to improve performance on a shared or local priority;

An opportunity to develop partnership working;

A question over the need for a service or the way the service is set up; or

Evidence that costs are significantly out of line with comparable services elsewhere.

8. The new guidance makes it clear that the programme in 2003/04 should include priorities arising from the Annual Review. The CPA work done to date has also flagged up affordable homes, re-tendering of environmental services and delivering the environmental services improvement plan, which are being addressed already. Two cross-cutting service areas remain in what was the review programme, notably Elderly and Community Welfare Services and Financial Services. There is an issue, however, of whether the Council has the capacity to deliver full best value reviews in these areas of relatively lower strategic priority when its officers are in the middle of preparing the HRA Business Plan, which is key to CPA, and undertaking the self-assessments and preparing the evidence for CPA.

Best Value Reviews at Waverley: 2000-2003

9. The Council is starting its fourth year of best value reviews. The programme to date has focussed on areas that reflect the Council’s priorities and offered the greatest scope to improve services (see Table 1). In 2002/03, reviews covered elements of leisure, housing, land drainage and personnel services, along with an examination of the best value process itself. The programme is nearing completion and your officers will be reporting the findings and proposed improvements to the next cycle of committees. Member decisions will be sought where there are policy and resource implications.

What Best Value Inspectors have said

10. Four services have received full inspection: Development Control, Facilities Management, Waste Management and Housing Maintenance and Repair. Facilities Management and Waste Management were judged ‘good’ two-star services Planning and Housing Maintenance were judged ‘fair’ one-star services. The Inspectors judged that all four are well placed to improve their performance in the future.


11. CPA is a vital test of the Council’s corporate arrangements for securing improvement and of its performance in key service areas. The summer months provide the opportunity to complete the corporate self-assessment and diagnostics before peer challenge in October and CPA inspection in December.

12. CPA does not replace best value. Rather, best value will continue to provide the foundation for improvement planning. To achieve improvement, the Council must continue to use the tools that are provided by the legislation: particularly the responsibility to set performance targets, carry out reviews and publish an annual performance plan.

13. The issue for this year and other years is to undertake more strategic reviews. Members may have a view on whether there are strategic issues emerging from the Annual Review that demand immediate ‘best value’ fundamental review. Members are invited to consider whether it is appropriate to undertake reviews this year or wait to see what emerges from CPA, when the Council will have been able to consider the way in best value reviews are undertaken, and their nature.

Table 1: The Best Value Review programme

Planning & Development:
Development Control & Enforcement
Planning Policy &
Environmental Conservation
Property Services
Building Control Services
Business Support & Economic Development

Adaptations for Disabled People
Meals on Wheels

Legal Services (including Local Land Charges)
Facilities Management (including Locality Offices)
Waste Management
Environmental Health
Environmental Cleaning
Public Conveniences

Cultural Services:
Museums & Galleries
Arts Development

Day-to-day Repairs
Cyclical Maintenance Programmed Maintenance
Allocations & Nominations
Managing Empty Property

Community Protection; Licensing, Community Safety & Emergency Planning
Communications & PR
Elections & Electoral Registration
Audit Services
Engineering Services (Land drainage)

Cultural Services:
Sports & Leisure
Sports Development & Community Recreation
Parks & Open Spaces
Borough Hall, Godalming
    Memorial Hall, Farnham
Housing Advice & Homelessness
Right to Buy & Service Charges Rent Arrears Recovery
Tenant Involvement
Tenancy Management

Best Value
Personnel Services


It is recommended that:-

1. the Executive considers whether it wishes to proceed during 2003/04 or 2004/05 with a programme of more strategic best value reviews which could include:-

Elderly and Community Welfare Services; and

Financial Services;

2. the programme should in due course take into account what emerges from CPA and community planning and should cover a period of no more than three years; and

3. the officers, with appropriate member input, finalise the statutory Performance Plan for 2003/04 and publish it on 30th June 2003, in accordance with ODPM Circular 03/2003.

Background Papers (CEx)

Local Government White Paper, ‘Strong Local Leadership, Quality Public Services’ (2001)
ODPM Circular 03/2003
Council reports of Best Value Reviews and Improvement Plans (2000-2003)


Name: Mr David Fannin Telephone: 01483 523148
E-mail: dfannin@waverley.gov.uk