The Audit Commission today released its performance evaluation of councils in the UK. They report that 83% of councils received a 3 or 4 (maximum) star status, a 3% increase from 2006. Surprisingly, no councils were in the lowest ranked category with 13 Councils achieving the 4 stars and ‘improving strongly’ grade from the Commission.
Is this accurate? Is this how you feel about your council?
Ten years of council tax rises leading to well over 100% increases in council tax. The average Council spends a million pounds on their own self-promotion and councils have seen an explosion in middle managers earning over £50,000.
Looking deeper in the statistics, let’s see how some of these '4 star' councils compare to the research we’ve produced:
Kent County Council, ranked 4 star and ‘strongly improving’ by the Audit Commission spent £6.5million on its own publicity (a 357% increase in ten years) and employ 713 bureaucrats earning over £50,000 a year (that’s up from only 37 in 1997).
Tameside Council, 4 stars, employed only 10 middle managers earning over £50,000 in 1997. Now they employ 147.
Camden, another 4 star council, spends £3.5million on its publicity and employs 191 middle managers on over £50,000, costing Camden’s taxpayers £12.3million a year.
Value for money? Worth four stars? Of course not! One council, Hammersmith and Fulham, deserves 4 starts because it’s cutting council tax; it’s cutting their self promotion budget. It’s delivering frontline services, like 24-hour policing. That is worth four stars because it’s got the basics right, it’s giving people the services they expect.
The others, week on week, advertise for middle management, filling their council offices with more and more drains on public finances. Government is growing, taking more of our money in tax to create more excuses for its own existence. Our services are declining because the politicians and bureaucrats cannot manage the provision of services from a monolithic, top-down superstructure. We don’t need a report to be told what our councils are like. On the streets people know what their councils are up to; the people are over-taxed, see their bins collected less and less and yet find councils continuously advertising for middle management. And no amount of propaganda from councils or commissions is going to convince us otherwise!