Council to build on audit success
Aberdeen City Council today accepted the findings of a report by Scotland’s public spending watchdog and agreed measures outlined by council officers to further transform services.
Each local authority in Scotland receives a Best Value audit every five years as part of a rolling programme of audits established by the Accounts Commission.
The council – audited from December 2020 to April 2021 – noted the progress made against recommendations from the 2015 Best Value Assurance Report, including:
- A clear and ambitious vision articulated in the Local Outcome Improvement Plan;
- Delivery of key services and savings targets in tandem with the delivery of major capital projects;
- Robust financial management and well-established governance arrangements.
Earlier this summer the Accounts Commission accepted Audit Scotland’s assessment of the council’s performance, commenting on “the strong changes, improvements and ambition that have been put in place since our 2015 and 2008 Best Value reports”.
Council leader Councillor Jenny Laing (above) said: “It is especially gratifying to be commended on all aspects of our work – the high standard of our operational services, the investment made in infrastructure ranging from schools to housing, and the effectiveness of our governance arrangements.
“In transforming our organisation and our city we have balanced ambition with sound financial stewardship, ensuring there is always a focus on our most vulnerable residents.
“Thanks must go to our staff, communities and partner organisations for their hard work and dedication, especially during the most difficult days of the Covid-19 pandemic. The audit report represents a vote of confidence in all that we do together.”
The Commission noted the council’s achievements in delivering key services and savings targets, whilst also delivering on several major capital projects. Significant investments in Marischal Square, The Event Complex Aberdeen, and the Art Gallery were noted for both their size and the council’s innovative approach to capital projects overall.
Auditors had welcomed steps taken to improve education performance, the appointment of a Chief Education Officer in 2018 and a swift restructuring having enabled the service to drive forward change in collaboration with school leaders. Recent SQA data has evidenced significant improvement and attainment at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher is now in line with national levels.
Auditors also highlighted challenges as well as successes in Housing Performance, acknowledging that transformation is already under way, especially in improving outcomes for vulnerable tenants.
Cllr Laing said: “The current redesign of our housing service will increase resourcing, reduce the average tenancy caseloads per officer, and make it easier for the tenants to seek the support they need.
“As auditors noted, Aberdeen City Council has shown great self-awareness in responding to the challenges and opportunities before us.”