A report published today by the Auditor General for Wales says that Cardiff Council has not been addressing weak performance in some key service areas, because of fragmented leadership and management.
Although the Council has made some progress, in particular with establishing a new senior management team, in making improvements to the financial information available about directorates and to identify £50 millon of potential savings for 2014-2015, a number of significant risks remain.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said today:
Cardiff Council, like all local authorities across Wales, is facing significant cuts in funding. My report provides a worrying picture that the Council is not doing enough to plan for these cuts in funding or to address long-standing weaknesses in its services. I hope today’s report provides the impetus to address these issues and to build on new processes and procedures which the Council is starting to put in place.
The Annual Improvement Report and Corporate Assessment concludes that there are a number of factors currently preventing the Council from making the progress it needs to. A peer review conducted by the Welsh Local Government Association in 2013 identified a number of urgent issues that the Council needed to address. The Auditor General’s report concludes that the Council has not made enough progress in addressing these issues and that substantial risks remain, including:
- not having detailed plans to back up the savings proposals being made;
- processes to ensure good governance are not being implemented;
- decision making processes are inefficient and lack transparency;
- delivery plans to drive service improvement are still in the early stage of development; and
- the Council still does not have readily accessible and timely information available to enable it to effectively manage performance of services.
The report says the challenges facing the Council’s new leadership team are extensive. It is important that the Council takes urgent action to address the findings of today’s report and the 2013 peer review and prioritises the actions that it needs to take.
Today’s report does not include any statutory recommendations, but makes two proposals for improvement, which are:
- for the Council to ensure it implements its Organisation Development Plan to help resolve the issues identified in today’s report; and
- for the Auditor General and his staff to work with the Council in the interim to ensure that the Council is clear about what key improvements need to be made.
Activity will be monitored in the coming months to assess the progress being made. The Auditor General and his staff will conduct a follow-up corporate inspection in 2015 to consider whether the issues highlighted in today’s report have been satisfactorily resolved.