A report published today by the Auditor General on Ceredigion County Council concludes that the Council has strong and clear leadership
And having carried out an internal restructure of senior management, is demonstrating a corporate performance culture which has good potential to drive the necessary improvement in services and outcomes for its citizens.
The Council is managing its resources and assets well and is working collaboratively and in partnership with other councils and service providers to deliver efficiencies and achieve positive outcomes for its citizens. The performance management arrangements it has in place are continuing to be developed, although more needs to be done to drive real change in service outcomes.
Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, said today:
Ceredigion County Council is providing services that meet the needs of citizens and its focus on improving services and outcomes for citzens is evident. However, the Council will need to take difficult decisions if it is to continue to support improved services for its citizens as well as making the significant cost reductions which are necessary.
Strong corporate financial planning and management arrangements have enabled the Council to set a balanced budget for 2014-2015 and be confident that it will achieve the corporate savings necessary for this financial year. Nevertheless the Council will need to take difficult decisions if it is going to balance its budget over the medium term, and is considering how it can further improve the way it delivers its services in order to achieve the significant cost reductions necessary over the next three years.
The Council has a robust and effective governance model with clear lines of accountability in which scrutiny and challenge are developing well. Since a restructure of senior management the Council has, in a short amount of time, achieved a radically improved culture with a real corporate feel and a true sense of accountability.
Whilst the Council has a corporate and collaborative approach focussed upon improving service outcomes for citizens, it is not always engaging effectively with them. The Council is reporting in a fair and balanced way to the public about its performance, but it is not providing citizens with a clear evaluation of the progress it is making towards achieving its improvement objectives.
The report includes an improvement proposal: that the Council should develop a strategic plan setting out a clear vision for the future delivery of its services within the financial constraints it faces over the medium term. This plan should consider and set out, with a clear timeframe, how the Council:
- intends to meet its service priorities, and achieve the cost reductions necessary over the medium term;
- will consult and engage with its citizens to inform decision-making in relation to service change proposals;
- will evaluate and decide which business operating models provide the best options for delivering future services, incorporating assessment of the social and community risks of proposed spending cuts;
- will ensure timely and robust scrutiny and other appropriate governance arrangements are put in place to manage and deliver change; and
- post change, will monitor and scrutinise financial and service performance to ensure that cost reductions are being realised and agreed service standards and outcomes are being achieved.