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Renfrewshire Council comparisons show positive trends.

The body charged with supporting improvement in local authority services says that councils in Scotland are continuing to deliver innovation and improvement in services despite ‘very significant financial pressures’ on their budgets.

The second annual report of the Local Government Benchmarking Framework, conducted by the Improvement Service, has compared costs and levels of public satisfaction with services provided by Scotland’s 32 local councils.

The newly-published report found that councils were making significant progress in working as partners and in offering better value for public money.

While collaborating, innovating, and working more efficiently, councils are also delivering services to increasing numbers of people, more of whom report increased levels of satisfaction with the service they receive.

Ronnie Hinds, Chair of the Local Government Benchmarking Board, said: “Our report enables people to see how their councils are performing and how well their money is being spent. That level of accountability and transparency is increasingly important as a spur to improvement.

“There is clear evidence in this year’s benchmarking report that there is a high level of public satisfaction with local authority services.

“Councils are also responding well to the need to reduce costs and get better value for money.

“At the same time we are using the co-ordination of information not only as a measurement of how councils are currently performing, but also as a springboard for improving standards and delivering even better services.

“In the next few months, we will be able to demonstrate the value of this approach as we publish the results of two collaborative pilot schemes between councils using benchmarking data.  One pilot is comparing and making recommendations on roads maintenance, and the other is looking at the positive destinations of young people after leaving secondary school.

“We will continue to work with all local authorities and appropriate partner organisations to strengthen that support for more effective services for our communities.

Included in the report’s findings is information on:

Increasing numbers of young people leaving school are heading for positive destinations in further education, work and training (an increase from 88.9% in 2010/11 to 91.4% in 2012/13).

More young people are achieving more than five awards at SQA Levels 5 and 6 (an increase from 36% to 39% for level 5, and 23% to 26% for level 6 since 2010/11).
The attainment gap is closing with the exam performance of pupils in the most deprived areas improving at a faster rate than the national average (e.g. for level 5 awards, an increase of 4 percentage points from 16% to 20% across the period)

The number of vacant council homes has been reduced and the standard of housing stock is improving (e.g. the % dwellings meeting Scottish Housing Standards has increased from 54% to 77% across the period)
Environmental Services

Customers are reporting increased satisfaction with street cleanliness and waste collection (from 73% to 75% and 81% to 83% satisfied respectively).
Cultural and Leisure Services

Visitor numbers are increasing while costs are reducing (e.g. for sports facilities, an increase in visitor numbers of 13.5% against a backdrop of a reduction in gross expenditure of -6.4% over the same period).

Council costs
The cost of running councils and collecting council tax and business rates has been kept to around  5% of total gross revenue spend.

The report also pinpoints challenges where further work is required.

Those issues include growing rent arrears (from 5.9% to 6.8%) – possibly linked to UK Government welfare changes – and increasing waste disposal costs (an increase of 3.7% in real terms since 2010-11).

There are also challenges arising from the integration of social care and health services, and the increasing numbers of people who require self-directed support packages.

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council.

The report can be downloaded from here.