Eighteen months ago we launched our offer to support sector-led self-regulation. In that time we have worked with over 100 councils to deliver or plan their corporate peer challenge. We anticipate 2013 will be a busy year as demand continues to increase.
Every council is able to have a corporate peer challenge at no direct cost. In addition, county and unitary councils are entitled to a Children's Safeguarding peer challenge.
Peer challenge is delivered by the sector for the sector. It is voluntary in nature and tailored to the needs of each council.
We know that peer challenge is a proven tool for improvement. Since 2004, almost 70 per cent of councils have had a peer challenge and in the last year we have received a clear message from the sector that peer challenge is a valuable part of a council's drive to improve its performance in tough times.
In Autumn 2012 we ran five national events promoting wider awareness of corporate peer challenge, attended by more than 80 councils. The events and previous research identified that peer challenge is the most recognised LGA support offer for councils. Eighty-six per cent of authorities who've already had a peer challenge thought the challenge was good at identifying key issues for the authority. More strikingly, their own experience of peer challenge was so positive that every single authority recommended a peer challenge for other councils.
Since the offer has been launched, we have completed 51 corporate peer challenges. Demand in the last few months has increased significantly. We are in discussion with a further 86 councils about the planning and timing of their challenge. We have completed peer challenges in:
|Allerdale Borough Council||Babergh and and Mid-Suffolk District Councils|
|Barnsley Council||Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council|
|Boston Borough Council||Bracknell Forest Council|
|Canterbury City Council||Castle Point Borough Council|
|Christchurch Borough Council||Cornwall Council|
|Craven District Council||Durham County Council|
|Eastbourne Borough Council||East Dorset District Council|
|East Hertfordshire District Council||Hambleton and Richmondshire|
|Harborough District Council||Hartlepool Borough Council|
|London Borough of Havering||Lincolnshire County Council|
|Malvern Hills District Council||Mansfield District Council|
|Mid-Devon District Council||Milton Keynes Council<|
|Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council||Newcastle upon Tyne City Council|
|London Borough of Newham||North East Lincolnshire Council|
|North Kesteven District Council||Norwich City Council|
|Nottinghamshire County Council||Portsmouth City Council|
|Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council||Rochford Dstrict Council|
|Scarborough Borough Council||Solihull Council|
|South Hams and West Devon||South Norfolk Council|
|South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils||Stoke-on-Trent City Council|
|Surrey County Council||London Borough of Sutton|
|Swale Borough Council||Taunton Deane Borough Council|
|Teignbridge District Council||Thurrock Council|
|Warwick District Council||West Lindsey District|
|Wirral Borough Council||Worcestershire County Council|
|Wyre Forest District Council|
Since 2011, we have been working with a small group of chief executives from a range of authorities to:
We took advice from leading politicians and tested out our thinking with a wide range of elected members and officers. We did this through a series of roadshows and gathered feedback following the first batch of peer challenges.
See how authorities have been using peer challenge and the benefits they are gaining:
In June 2012, Cardiff Business School completed an independent evaluation of the first phase of peer challenge and the key messages were very encouraging:
Councils are using their peer challenge to focus on a variety of different issues, including:
The approach is highly flexible. It can be designed around your council's current issues and improvement needs. Subject to resources it can be delivered at a time to suit your council. The focus of the peer challenge is worked up with each council individually. Don't just take our word for it. Ten authorities talk about how they have used it in different ways and the fantastic benefits they got out of peer challenge. [insert link]
Further details are set out in our publication:
Watch chief executives and councillors talk about peer challenges:
Our role is to report to councils, not about them. We encourage all councils to publish their reports or outcomes from their peer challenge at a time of their choosing. Authorities who are doing this have found it useful in terms of transparency and local accountability.
We are very pleased that so far, almost without exception, councils have published the outcomes from their peer challenge. Sometimes there is naturally a time lag between council's having their peer challenge and the publication of its outcomes.
Explore some of the reports, with information about why councils value publishing the outcomes of their peer challenge:
For more information about peer challenge, or to find out how to become a peer, please contact:
Andy Bates, Principal Advisor
Telephone: 07919 562849
Telephone: 07887 706960