Benchmarking project welcomed

Aberdeenshire Council has joined forces with Scotland’s other 31 local authorities to introduce a new approach to comparing performance and outcomes across frontline council services.

This means that for the first time ever in Scotland, there is a standard set of benchmarking data for the most important areas of local authority service delivery.

Each council has fed in data on service delivery to the new project coordinated by SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), COSLA and the Improvement Service (IS).

The project analyses the performance of each council against 55 indicators, which include school pupil attainment levels, sickness absence days and satisfaction with leisure facilities, refuse collection and street cleaning.

Scotland’s local authorities will be divided into “families”, a system of grouping councils together with others of similar geographical size, population density, rural/urban classification and other factors.

Local authorities are encouraged to open dialogues with others in the same “family” to help make improvements by identifying areas of best practice.

Data for the new Benchmarking study has been gathered using a range of sources including statistical returns to the Scottish Government and Audit Scotland, as well as satisfaction figures from the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) from 2010-11.

Aberdeenshire Council uses a variety of sources of information, including the SHS, to gather the views of its residents about service delivery. These include the independent Citizen’s Panel and the council’s own Reputation Tracker.

While we recognise that the SHS figures are not as up-to-date as would be preferred, this is the only residents’ survey which covers all 32 local authorities.

Council Leader, Councillor Jim Gifford, said: “This new benchmarking project is not about winners and losers. It is about local authorities working together and sharing information and examples of best practice to enable improvements to be made.

“The results show a mixed picture of performance, which has to be balanced by our own local priorities. At a time of significant change and budget reductions for the public sector, we must decide where our priorities lie, while still ensuring effective delivery of all frontline services.”