Councils – Local services up in London

Local services in London have improved enormously but are still poorer on average than other cities, the Audit Commission will reveal later today, writes Ben Griffiths.

The local authority watchdog has published performance indicators – crucial for the success of the best value regime – specifically for London for the first time, ahead of the creation of the Greater London Authority next July.

Commission controller Andrew Foster said: ‘Some London councils’ services are amongst the poorest in the country. It is vital these councils make improvements quickly.’

Based on local authority performance indicators for 1997/1998, the commission will reveal how boroughs have performed across a range of services, allowing comparison between other councils and also previous years. They are intended to focus local debate on the effectiveness and value for money of council services.

Generally, performance has improved, the report concludes, but there remains a wide variation. Overall spending per person has fallen by 2% since 1994/1995.

Under the best value regime, councils will be more involved in setting performance targets. The commission has told authorities to inform the public of steps they will take to improve services before the regime comes in.

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