But limitations in governance and performance evaluation could hinder future progress
Neath Port Talbot Council is delivering its key priorities, according to a report by the Auditor General for Wales. But, it may not be able to sustain progress in the future because of current limitations with governance and the way it evaluates its performance.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said today:
Neath Port Talbot Council is well on the road to delivering its priorities but it must fully address weaknesses in its governance arrangements and its approach to performance evaluation if it wants to continue its upward trend.
The Annual Improvement and Corporate Assessment report found that the Council has a clear vision, which is helping guide decisions on what its priorities should be. The Council is already addressing weaknesses in its governance arrangements and is improving the transparency of decision making. But, while the Council is delivering improvements in its priority areas, it is not evaluating the efficiency of delivery.
The report highlights the Council’s track record of meeting overall savings targets. But, the report warns that early financial pressures are threatening the Council from achieving future planned savings.
The report also concludes that the Council has a clear strategic vision for its human resources function but lacks the supporting arrangements it needs to ensure it delivers.
The Council has asset management arrangements that support improvement. However, it hasn’t assessed the impact of reduced resources on IT and weaknesses in information management present a reputational risk.
While the Council collaborates with a range of partners to secure improvement and sustain services, it lacks a consistent approach to evaluating the outcomes being achieved.
The report makes proposals for improvement in seven key areas: governance; performance management; financial planning; human resources; asset management; information technology and information management; and collaboration. The proposals include:
- establishing a skills programme that helps councillors to discharge their roles and responsibilities effectively
- providing comprehensive and accessible information about the business conducted by the Council
- improving financial planning and monitoring by combining financial and performance information more effectively, and
- updating the asset management plan so it acts as a reference point for the next five years and is more closely linked to the current priorities set out in the Council’s corporate improvement plan.