Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities
The Welsh Government’s Public Sector Reform agenda is focused on working with our public sector partners to provide better services to local people more efficiently. We are all aware of the financial context in which we are working and living and that it is likely to get more challenging in the coming years. Understanding our services – where they are performing well and vice versa – is therefore critical to driving improvement.
To do that we must create a stronger accountability relationship between the people who receive services and the bodies which provide them. And, we must be sure that our councillors have the information they need to scrutinise effectively the services their constituents receive. The 2011 Local Government Measure will support this engagement by strengthening the scrutiny process.
I also believe that the citizen and service user has a powerful role in scrutinising service delivery – after all, they experience public services on a day to day basis. I want these people to be able to access easily information about their local services and compare how well their local authority is performing on the services which matter to them.
The Local Authority Performance publication I am making available today on the Welsh Government website begins this process by focusing on local authority performance in key areas. I hope that this publication will start to inform a debate and an understanding amongst the public and service providers of the standard of service that people should expect. This should also act as a gateway into the wealth of performance data which currently exists both in the Welsh Government and local government itself.
There will be challenges around the quality, timeliness, relevance and representativeness of the data presented in the tables. I understand those concerns but believe that the data provides a useful starting point in stimulating a discussion around service provision and prioritisation – that is a necessary debate and I will continue to prompt and inform it. I encourage others to enter that debate and engage with their local authorities and elected members.
This is not a one off publication. I intend to produce further versions which will reflect more up to date data and will seek to develop further the citizen focus of the publication as we engage with a wider audience in driving service improvement. I would therefore welcome any constructive feedback you may have on this publication, especially about how I can expand and improve the data I make available so as to stimulate a continued and meaningful debate about service improvement.