'Sector-led improvement' is the approach to improvement put in place by councils and the LGA alongside the abolition of the previous national performance framework.
The approach, the core principles and key components and their application in specific service areas are described in Sector-led improvement in local government (PDF, 16 pages, 1.0MB large file)
The LGA is making available a range of practical support, on a free of charge and or subsidised basis, to enable councils to exploit the opportunities that this new approach to improvement provides.
The approach works and is a success story for the sector. That's the conclusion from our exhaustive two year programme of evaluation research that sought views from national stakeholders (including officials from government departments and the inspectorates), council leaders, chief executives and directors, and monitored a wide range of performance metrics.
The evaluation, published in May 2014, demonstrates that:
- residents remain satisfied with and continue to trust their local council, despite the increasing financial constraints being faced by the sector.
- councils' performance across a range of metrics continues to improve
- the approach and offer of support from the LGA is welcomed and valued by councils.
This is a considerable achievement for the sector against a backdrop of councils nationally having their funding cut by 40 per cent in real terms since 2010, increased demographic pressures and national policy changes. Further details and the evaluation report are below.
The LGA will continue to keep the approach under review and to develop new support offers to meet the changing challenges faced by councils.
Examples of how councils are embracing the approach are contained in:
Further examples are included in the case studies section on this page.
LGA support offer
The LGA is making available a range of support on a free of charge and or subsidised basis to enable councils to exploit the opportunities that this new approach to improvement provides.
Councils are encouraged to consider how they might take advantage of this seven-point offer, although we do expect that the sector will take steps to enhance the way they are locally accountable. In addition, councils will continue to support each other through, for example, the use of peers. Through our offer, we will provide approaches to help councils with these objectives. We will also ensure that inspection does not creep back by keeping an overview of the performance of the sector and the wider regulatory regime.
Accessing support: the role of the LGA Principal Advisers
Councils can access support through our regionally based Principal Advisers (PAs). PAs are the LGA's focal point for discussions with councils about their improvement needs and the support we can make available, working with existing sector owned improvement bodies at sub-national level and with colleagues supporting children's services improvement and adults/health.
LGA finance support offer
The LGA is engaged in an extensive programme of work to try to influence funding for local government. At the same time we have developed a "finance offer" to help councils.
Increasingly councils have told us they are looking for good practice and support to help them manage their overall finances in these difficult times. This can range from achieving productivity or efficiency savings through to ways of helping them engage with their local communities to prioritise how they spend reduced resources.
This finance offer relies on making use of expertise in the sector, both member and officer peers. It includes a new financial health check; a new budget challenge; new tools to allow councils to assess their own financial position and consider opportunities and threats to their financial strategy; highlights key elements of our existing offer, in particular around productivity and efficiency; and signposts the contributions that others such as Local Partnerships can make.
We hope councils will find this helpful. Please talk to your Principal Adviser if you are interested in pursuing any aspect of this or any other LGA support offer.
Health and care improvement programmes
The LGA delivers a number of adult social care and health improvement programmes in partnership with the Department of Health, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and others.
We are a key partner in these programmes because each has at its core the principles of sector-led improvement and the belief that councils and their local partners are best placed to drive their own improvement.
The programmes include:
- Towards excellence in adult social care (TEASC), including Making safeguarding personal
- Care Act: implementing the care and support reforms
- Health and wellbeing system improvement
- Integration and the Better Care Fund
- Winterbourne View joint improvement programme.
Improvement in children's services
The improvement offer direct to councils includes:
- Providing nationally accredited and quality assured courses for practitioners and associates engaging in peer review, challenge or diagnostic activity and maintaining an availability register
- Running a series of Leadership Essentials (formerly Leadership Academies) residential course for lead members
- Developing and/or brokering, where need is evidenced, a flexible and responsive offer of bespoke diagnostic or peer review tools either to individual authorities or as part of a regional offer or as may be commissioned by DfE for authorities in intervention. These may be offered on a whole cost, subsidised or free basis.
Children's Improvement Associates have also been appointed by the LGA to work with our Principle Advisers in each of the regions along with a prime associate with strategic overview to pull together learning from each of the regions and advise on the best support to councils.
Further details are available in the improvement support section of this website
Culture, tourism and sport
The LGA offers a wide range of programmes and tools to help councils tackle the challenges and take advantages of the opportunities for culture, tourism and sport.
The Planning Advisory Service (PAS)
PAS provides consultancy and peer support, learning events and online resources to help local authorities understand and respond to planning reform.
The LGA has published an evaluation of sector-led improvement.
The evaluation report demonstrates that:
- Residents remain satisfied with and continue to trust their local council, despite the increasing financial constraints being faced by the sector. More than two-thirds of people (70 per cent) are very or fairly satisfied with the way their council runs things and when people were asked whether they trusted councils or Government most to make decisions about how services were provided in their local area, 77 per cent said local councils.
- Councils' performance continues to improve. Analysis of a series of 97 metrics, across the full range of local government activity shows a positive direction of travel, with approximately three quarters of these metrics having seen an improvement since 2010.
- The approach and offer of support from the LGA is welcomed and valued by councils. In a survey of senior members and officers conducted for the evaluation, 93 per cent of leaders who were aware of the offer and 93 per cent of chief executives said that the support and resources offered by the LGA had had a positive impact on their authority.
This is a considerable achievement for the sector against a backdrop of councils nationally having their funding cut by 40 per cent in real terms since 2010, increased demographic pressures and national policy changes.
Councils' commitment to the approach is evidenced by its support for and take up of peer challenge. By March 2014, councils had contributed more than 2,500 days of senior councillor and officer time to corporate peer challenge teams, representing a considerable investment by the sector in its own improvement – equivalent to millions of pounds worth of consultancy.
The evaluation ran over a two year period up until early 2014, with the main aim of understanding whether, in the context of reduced resources within local government:
- the approach to sector-led improvement has the confidence of the sector and the government, and the trust of the public
- the sector has been able to strengthen local accountability
- the sector is adopting the sector-led improvement approach and continues to improve with a reduced burden of inspection, and in the absence of top down performance assessment
- the tools offered to the sector have had a positive impact on the sector's capacity to improve itself.
A further key aim of the evaluation was to provide information that will enable the LGA to continue to refine and improve the approach and support offer to local authorities.
The LGA will continue to keep sector colleagues informed about the progress of the sector-led improvement work, but if you would like more information or to contribute please email Dennis Skinner at: email@example.com