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Accounts Commission report praises Council ambition and leadership while calling for more work to fulfil its potential and deliver best value

Posted: 26th November 2020

“The City of Edinburgh Council is an ambitious council that needs to do more to maximise its potential”. So reads one of the opening lines of the Accounts Commission in its report endorsing of the Controller of Audit’s Best Value evaluation of the Council.

In a press release to mark the publication of their report, the Accounts Commission, which is the public spending watchdog for local government in Scotland, state that: “Over the last four years many services provided by the City of Edinburgh Council have improved, its finances have been well-managed and ambitious strategies to improve the lives of local people and the economy have been agreed”.

The Commission also notes, however, that the Best Value audit found mixed progress by the Council at a strategic level, across community engagement and continuous improvement. It also states that the Council “must now put in place a long-term financial strategy and a more effective workforce plan”.

The Controller of Audit’s best value assurance report highlighted good leadership in the Council through its programmes to address poverty and sustainability and by making difficult decisions, such as approving plans for Phase 2 of the tram network. It also said the Council had improved its performance across many of its Key Performance Indicators and has a long track record of maintaining revenue expenditure within budget.

Council Leader Adam McVey said: We welcome the Accounts Commission’s constructive feedback in response to the Best Value Assurance Report carried out by the Controller of Audit and we are pleased to note their positive comments about the levels of ambition we have shown in addressing our key priorities of poverty, sustainability and wellbeing.

The Controller of Audit acknowledged the improving picture of our core services, while our bold strategies to put people at the heart of how we design public space, our proven ability to take difficult decisions like taking trams to Newhaven, and extensive consultations with residents and stakeholders to put communities at the heart of our decision-making are all cited as strengths.

Of course, we’re always striving to improve wherever we can so that we deliver the best possible services and achieve what we’ve set out to achieve on behalf of the people of Edinburgh. We are now carefully reviewing the full report and will work hard to address areas in need of our attention going forward.

Depute Leader Cammy Day said:

The Council delivers more than 700 services for Scotland’s Capital, from care for the most vulnerable in our communities and maintaining several hundred miles of roads and pavements to educating our children and putting roofs over people’s heads, and much more besides. Our frontline colleagues continue to pull out all the stops to keep vital services going during hugely challenging circumstances right now and I want to thank each and every one of them for their hard work and dedication.

These are especially testing times for all local authorities given the ongoing global pandemic and straitened public finances so it’s vital we are equipped with as much information as possible when making decisions affecting our communities. What we’re doing now is reviewing the Best Value Assurance report and the Accounts Commission’s findings in full with elected members. We’ll then draw up our detailed response setting out how we plan to use the findings in the best interests of the whole city.

The Best Value Assurance Audit report and Accounts Commission findings will be considered and scrutinised by the Policy and Sustainability Committee on 1 December, by the Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee on 8 December and by Full Council on 10 December.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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