The Accounts Commission for Scotland has published its findings, based on Audit Scotland’s progress report on Best Value at Shetland Islands Council.
The Commission says that Shetland Islands Council has made a start in addressing the issues raised in the Commission’s March 2005 findings, but it remains concerned at the pace and extent of change in delivering improvements.
In the first best value report on Shetland Islands Council, published in March 2005, the Commission said that the council had not yet laid the foundations for Best Value. Areas of particular concern, included:
- insufficient strategic planning and target setting, the fact that planned activity was not prioritised and matched to
- a lack of evidence to show how well the council was delivering services to the people of Shetland
- the need for a more corporate approach to procurement
- the council’s complex arrangements for delivering some services through local trusts and the need for the councilto better monitor its own funds to ensure that these are being spent effectively
- the use of reserves to meet the shortfall in the council’s budget between expenditure and income.
Today’s findings accept the conclusion of Audit Scotland’s progress report, which says that Shetland Islands Council has made a start in addressing the issues raised in the Commission’s previous findings. The Commission particularly acknowledges the council’s introduction of a Corporate Improvement Plan and service planning and performance management frameworks, as well as moves towards achieving the longer term ambition of financial sustainability. However, the Commission remains concerned about the pace and extent of change.
Alastair MacNish, Chairman of the Accounts Commission said: “Shetland Islands Council has now made a good start on addressing Best Value however we urge the council to increase the pace of change in delivering its Improvement Plan.
“A number of initiatives are relatively recent and not yet fully established. There particularly needs to be early improvement in developing community planning, clarity in the lines of accountability between the council and the Trusts and whilst we welcome the steps the council has taken in the direction of establishing better scrutiny
processes, it is essential to have an audit committee separate from other deliberative and decision-making bodies.”
The Commission will monitor progress through Audit Scotland’s annual audit process.