Evaluation of our sector-led improvement programme

Sector-led improvement (SLI) 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. 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 across a range of metrics 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. Further details and the evaluation report are below.

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. As well as benefiting the councils who receive a peer challenge, there are many benefits for our peers as outlined in our publication Enabling learning, development and improvement Being a peer as part of the LGA corporate peer challenge programme.

The evaluation had the main aim of understanding whether, in the context of reduced resources within local government:

  • the approach to SLI 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 SLI 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.

Further information and view the evaluation report

10 November 2014