Councils spend almost £40,000 every minute

by May 14, 2012 No Comments

Local authorities spend almost £40,000 every minute providing vital services, according to figures released by Scotland’s public spending watchdog.

However, the report from the Accounts Commission states that they can do more to ensure every pound delivers maximum value for the people they serve.

The organisation calls for more focus on actively applying cost information to plan services, scrutinise performance and demonstrate value for money.

It says cost information is an important tool to look back at how budgets have been spent but it can also be used more by councils to ensure high quality services meet current and future needs. This can sometimes be done simply by asking the right questions of officials and councils sharing best practice with each other.

The report also states that councillors need good cost information to make well informed policy decisions and scrutinise performance, while officers also need it to help them manage services efficiently, assess performance and demonstrate value for money.

John Baillie, chairman of the Accounts Commission, said: “The new councillors have to get up to speed very quickly.

“We hope this report will help them scrutinise policy and get the right information on both quality and cost of services.

“It can be down to simply asking the right questions of officials and sharing information and best practice with other councils.

“This is a big challenge but it can deliver real dividends for councils and their communities.” The report also states better use of cost information is all the more important given the current pressures on public spending.

Being open about costs can also help communities understand the difficult choices councils face and help staff develop more informed policy.

This report is the third in the ‘How Councils Work’ series, which draws on audit work in all councils to highlight concerns, issues and good practice. The first report looked at councillors’ and officers’ roles and working relationships and the second at arm’s-length organisations.

Kate Shannon Kate Shannon

After graduating from Glasgow University with a degree in English and Scottish Literature, Kate has been working as a journalist since 2005. She started out in the colourful world of local newspapers, both in her home region of Dumfries and Galloway and in Fife, before working for a national news agency based at the Scottish Parliament. Kate joined the Holyrood team in 2011 as Local Government Correspondent, covering everything from the nuances of the planning system to quizzing council leaders and chief executives. She is passionate about Scotland's varied and interesting local government landscape and is an advocate of social media. Kate is particularly devoted to Twitter and likes to mix the two worlds by tweeting from major events and on the...

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