Abdool Kara 19 August 2008

Plugged In

Plugged In image

What seems like a long time ago (c2001), in a land far away (the Audit Commission), I was party to creation of what are now known as KLOEs.  Then we were focussing on bringing consistency to the questions that housing inspectors asked.  Over time, those questions were joined by scoring descriptors, called ‘criteria for judgement’.

I was reminded of these halcyon days when perusing the new Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA) consultation from the Commission, which aims, laudably, to be flexible, tailored, proportionate, forward-looking - a regulatory regime that is bespoke to each authority, which we should all applaud (even if remaining unsure about some points of detail).

But looking back with the benefit of hindsight we can see a pattern that first Best Value inspection, and then CPA followed - a pattern that in seeking to learn the lessons of the past, we can work to avoid in the future.

The pattern starts with accusations of ‘subjectivity’ in findings – not surprising in what is a ‘qualitative’ assessment.  This is followed with the challenging of written or scored judgements by comparison with other authorities’ judgements – interesting when we all claim to be ‘unique’.  Lastly, some will feel the need to take more formal action via the legal system - sometimes the result of real disagreement over findings, but sometimes there are other causes, eg local elections in the offing.

Consequently, over time, regulators are forced to be more explicit about the way that they arrive at their findings, clarifying their evidence bases, and demonstrating consistency.  This will tend to mean more KLOEs (even if no longer called this), criteria, and assessment frameworks, and an inevitable drift towards a less bespoke and more ‘mechanical’ approach.

Maybe this is inevitable – a greater pattern of all regulatory regimes.  But if there was one thing I would endorse as a means of stopping, or at least slowing, such a pattern it would be for the CAA regime to find as many ways of including trusted sector peers in its approach.  As proposed there is precious little place for peers, who both help to bring experience to the less experienced inspectorate staff, as well as confidence to the sector that all is well within the regime.

This might cost more in paying for CAA via our audit fees, but it might just be worth it if we want CAA to be all that we have fought for it to be in the first place.

Abdool Kara is deputy chief executive of Merton LBC

 
Innovating for a fairer start image

Innovating for a fairer start

Nesta’s Tom Symons outlines how they are partnering with three councils for trial discovery projects to improve school readiness levels.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Occupational Therapist

Essex County Council
£32065 - £43839 per annum
Occupational TherapistPermanent, Full Time£32,065 - £43,839 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Organisation Design Practitioner / Consultant

Essex County Council
£49939 - £58752 per annum
Senior Organisation Design Practitioner / ConsultantFixed Term, 12 months (secondments from other local authorities and civil service departments wil England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

People Caseworker

Essex County Council
Negotiable
People Caseworker Temporary, Full Time £18 per hour Location
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Commissioning Apprentice for Children and Families

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
234
Our Apprenticeship scheme provides a perfect way to earn a wage while you gain vital work experience and a nationally recognised qualification. London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Income Officer Customer Accounts

City of York Council
£20,422 to £21,552 per annum
An exciting role has become available in our busy Customer Accounts Team. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue