Principles of peer challenge

Peer Challenge is a core element of our sector-led improvement offer to local authorities, details of how, when and why on these pages.

The offer of peer support is set out in the report ‘Sector-led improvement in local government’ and is a core part of the LGA’s offer to councils and includes a range of free and charge/subsidised tools and support for councils. This report received high levels of support from councils who overwhelmingly endorse the key principles on which it is based:

  • councils are responsible for their own performance
  • stronger local accountability leads to further improvement
  • councils have a sense of collective responsibility for performance in the sector as a whole
  • the role of the LGA is to help councils by providing the necessary support.

You can read more about sector-led improvement, the approach and our offer.

A major part of the support is the offer to each council to have a corporate peer challenge (at no charge) at least every five years.

There are some design principles that are important to understand:

Peer challenges are managed and delivered by the sector for the sector. They are improvement focused; the scope will be agreed with the council and tailored to reflect their local needs and specific requirements.

The peer team will involve peers from across the sector and beyond. Their ambition is to help your council respond to its local priorities and issues in its own way to greatest effect.

A scoping meeting at the outset involving LGA representatives will be an essential feature. The council’s specific needs, the areas it wants to focus on, the makeup of the team and the results it wants to achieve will be discussed and agreed.

Peer Challenge should include some focus on leadership, governance, corporate capacity and financial resilience. These will form a core component of all corporate peer challenges.

The process should be proportionate – minimising the burden (rather than making unnecessary demands that absorb capacity and divert attention) focusing on making appropriate preparation and maximising the benefits.

Peer challenge – what it is not

Our approach to peer challenge continues to evolve but seeks to retain the tried, tested and trusted peer review model:

  • it is not a sector-owned form of inspection
  • it does not deliver a scored assessment
  • it is not a detailed service assessment
  • it is not driven by external requirements or a standard set of KLOE
  • it is not reported to Government. Ultimately this is your resource. Our objective is to work with you to help you maximise the benefit; to help you define the scope and process so that it best meets your needs and the needs of your council and community, and to help improve your productivity and effectiveness.
  • focusing on making appropriate preparation and maximising the benefits.