The Auditor General for Wales has today published a new report on Torfaen County Borough Council looking at how well the Council is improving its services.
The Auditor General for Wales set out some important messages on how Torfaen County Borough Council is planning to improve its services in his 2009-10 Annual Improvement Report. The report is the first of its kind, following new legislation in April 2010, which requires councils to make arrangements to improve their services and the way that they work. This first year has been a period of adjustment, and this report is a starting point for the Auditor General to make much fuller assessments of how councils are performing in future years.
The report's main message was that the Council is well led, works well with other organisations and is working hard to improve the way it turns its plans for improving services into reality. A summary of the key conclusions is set out below.
Stability in the Council's leadership over the past few years has helped the organisation to take tough decisions.
The Council is committed to working in collaboration with local partners within Torfaen and also with neighbouring councils to improve people's experience of services and also to make savings.
In the past, the Council has not always succeeded in turning its plans into reality but now it is taking steps to make sure this happens consistently. The Council has recently changed the structure of senior management and is reorganising itself to deal with the current economic climate.
Despite the strengths in leadership and partnership working, the Council recognises that it does not always manage performance and workforce planning well. The Council is reviewing its approach to project management, its process for setting policy and strategy and the way it uses finances and assets.
The Council has a good track record of managing within the budgets it sets, although at present the Council is predicting a £1.5 million overspend. The Council faces considerable financial pressures and has identified the need to secure £33 million of savings by 2014-15. It is working on how it will reduce its expenditure at present.
Currently the Council's results as measured by national performance indicators are variable in terms of improvement and in relative performance compared with other Welsh councils. Some indicators showed improved performance in 2009-10 including affordable housing, services for people aged over 65 supported in their own homes and young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). There were some reductions in performance of indicators in waste/recycling, empty premises, crime rates, education, building new homes and housing quality.
The Council's accounting statements present a true and fair view of the Council's financial transactions.