External Scrutiny Report highlights key strengths for Highland Council

The annual Local Scrutiny Plan (LSP) 2015-16 for Highland Council has been published by the Local Area Network, which consists of representatives of six scrutiny bodies including Audit Scotland, Education Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, HMICS, HMFSI, and the Scottish Housing Regulator.

The Local Scrutiny Plan shows no additional scrutiny is required of the Council during 2015-16, over and above planned external scrutiny through scheduled audits and inspection activity.

The plan highlights a number of positive strengths. The 2014 inspection of children’s services evaluated the service positively and highlighted a number of strengths. These included a clear vision for children’s services, effective early intervention support to vulnerable children and their families, committed staff working together and a commitment to self-evaluation.

It notes the successful self-evaluation and joint assessment with Northern Criminal Justice Service with an action plan to sustain what is already working well.

The Plan also recognises that community planning partners have a good understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement within community learning and development.

The Plan notes the Council is making sufficient progress towards addressing inquiry findings  into the delivery of homelessness services. 

While no further scrutiny is required, there are some areas identified for ongoing monitoring by the relevant scrutiny body. These include Integrated Care (Adult Services) and self-evaluation in schools. It also recognises the level of budget savings the council is required to find.

Vice Convener Maxine Smith said: “The Council’s programme “Working together for the Highlands” has a commitment to ‘continue to measure progress openly, report on it publicly and listen to communities, to ensure we are delivering services that provide best value for Council Taxpayers.’ The Local Scrutiny Plan is an important part of our performance management and reporting arrangements.”

She added: “This is a positive report and sets out several areas of strength for the Council’s performance. We are not complacent, however and are committed to continually driving improvements.”

Depute Leader David Alston welcomed the report saying: “This should be very reassuring to both members and the public that we can have a good degree of confidence in the Council’s efficiency, overall performance and value for money.”

14 May 2015
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