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Council chiefs do not understand how council services and policies affect residents

Powys County Council

SENIOR council chiefs did not understand how county council’s services and policies affect Powys residents who use them, a Audit Wales report has said.

At the council’s Governance and Audit committee meeting on Thursday, April 18 members will receive the “use of performance information: service user perspective and outcomes” report which was published by Audit Wales in March.

The auditors looked at performance information data provided to senior staff and councillors that was used during 2022/2023.

The report is based on fieldwork done between May and September last year and Audit Wales say this is an important part of arrangements to ensure that councils are providing: “value for money in the use of their resources.”

Audit Wales said: “Overall, we found that the performance information provided to senior leaders does not enable them to have a comprehensive understanding of the service user perspective and outcomes.

“This restricts their ability to understand the impact of the council’s services and policies.

“We have made three recommendations to strengthen the information given to senior leaders.

Audit Wales explained that performance information was received every three months by the council’s executive management team and senior leadership teams that are made up of corporate directors and heads of service.

Senior councillors on the cabinet also receive performance reports every three months.

These provide details of progress towards the council’s well-being objectives.

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Audit Wales said: “The council collects and reports on a wide range of measures and indicators of performance.

“These include some examples that seek to reflect the service user perspective, such as customer satisfaction measures.”

But it said that most of these relate to work done by the housing and social services departments.

Audit Wales said: “In all other areas, information about the service user perspective is extremely limited or not present.”

Audit Wales do say that there are signs of improvement at the council.

Audit Wales said: “The council has adopted a new corporate plan and has made significant changes to how it reports progress against its objectives.”

“We found that it is now easier for senior leaders to identify outcomes data in its performance dashboard and therefore to understand the impact its actions are having.”

But there are still issues as the whole scope on the council’s work is not being picked up.

The recommendations are:

  • the council should strengthen the information it provides to its senior leaders to enable them to understand how well services are meeting the needs of service users
  • the council should ensure that the information provided to senior leaders about outcomes reflects the range of the actions it is taking to deliver its objectives.
  • the council needs to assure itself that it has robust arrangements to check the quality and accuracy of the service user perspective and outcomes data it provides to senior leaders.