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Misleading Claims - Documents


Article in Local Government Journal

 


E-mail to Lloyd White


From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
Sent: 12 November 2009 13:06
To: Lloyd White (LBH Head Of Democratic Services)
Subject: Most Efficient Council In London??

Dear Mr White,

Thank you for the copy of the article in the Local Government Journal used as the basis for the claim that LB Hillingdon is the most efficient Council in London and the eighth most efficient in the country.

These claims appeared in the proposals presented to the Council meeting on 5th November.

My reading of the article is that the figures presented are of “efficiency savings” made over a year and, in this respect, LBH is to be congratulated.

However, they do not say anything about a council’s absolute level of efficiency.

A Council could perform well in achieving efficiency savings in one year and still be hopelessly inefficient and vis versa. 

Geoff Dobson of Suffolk CC, whose authority also performed well, makes the same point and is quoted as saying “.. a council which is already lean will find it harder to generate efficiency savings than one that has more fat to trim.”

Do you agree with my interpretation?   In which  case should the claims not be withdrawn?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk   
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770

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From: LLoyd White [mailto:lwhite3@Hillingdon.Gov.UK]
Sent: 13 November 2009 09:44
To: Hillingdon-Watch
Subject: Re: Most Efficient Council In London??

Mr Silverman,
 
thank you for your email, the contents of which I note.
 
This is not an area that I deal with personally but will ensure an answer is sent to you.
 
Yours
 
Lloyd White


Head of Democratic Services
London Borough of Hillingdon
07960 569874 (m)
01895 250636 (w)
lloyd.white@hillingdon.gov.uk
www.hillingdon.gov.uk

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From: LLoyd White [mailto:lwhite3@Hillingdon.Gov.UK]
Sent: 17 November 2009 15:32
To: Hillingdon-Watch
Subject: Council Efficiency

Dear Mr Silverman,

With reference to your query, I have been advised that the only government measure of a local authority's efficiency is based on the level of efficiency savings achieved in any given year and local authorities are then ranked on this basis. Communities and Local Government published the ranking as a result of Government Regulations that required councils, for the first time, to include information about efficiency performance on the face of the council tax bill for the year 2009-10.
 
Yours
 
Lloyd White
----------

Complaint To Deputy Chief Executive

Complaint (HW2)

To: London Borough Of Hillingdon
Subject : The Council’s efficiency claims
My reference : HW 2
19/11/09

By: Peter Silverman
20 Kingsend Ruislip, Middx, HA4 7DA,
01895 625770
petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk

Complaint

The Council’s report “Proposals For Changes To Governance Arrangements” prepared for the November 5th Council Meeting stated that:  “This is demonstrated by the Council being recognized as the most efficient in London and the eighth best in the UK” ( See Appendix 2 page 36 paragraph 9).

The report had been written by the Head of Democratic Services and the Borough Solicitor.

I enquired as to the source of this information and was directed to an article published in the May 7th 2009 edition of the Local Government Chronicle entitled “Publishing Prudence” . A pdf copy of the article is attached.

The article is about “efficiency savings” made over a year by Councils in England (not the UK).  

In it Geoff Dobson of Suffolk CC is quoted as saying “.. a council which is already lean will find it harder to generate efficiency savings than one that has more fat to trim.”

The figures presented do not say anything about a council’s level of efficiency.   A Council could have performed well in achieving efficiency savings in the year and still be relatively inefficient and visi versa. 

The fact that LB Hillingdon is reported as having a higher efficiency saving than any other London Borough does not therefore mean that it is the most efficient.

The claim in the report that the council had been recognized as the most efficient in London etc is therefore incorrect and misleading.

This was pointed out to the Head of Democratic Services.  However in his response of 17th November he effectively continued to equate “efficiency” with “efficiency saving s”.

The Council should withdraw it claims and apologise for misleading its Councilors and the electors of Hillingdon.

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From: Hillingdon-Watch [mailto:petersilverman@hillingdon-watch.org.uk]
Sent: 09 December 2009 17:42
To: Ray Puddifoot (Leader LBH)
Cc: John Randall (MP Uxbridge); Nick Hurd (MP For Ruilsip Northwood); John McDonnell (MP Hayes& Harlington); Cllr. Mike Cox ( LHB Leader Lib Dems); 'Anthony Way (LBH Labour Group Leader)'
Subject: LB Hillingdon - Most Efficient Council In London

Dear Cllr Puddifoot,

I am writing to draw attention to a misleading claim made on page 30 of the Hillingdon People Magazine in the article “Your Council Delivering Excellent Value for Money”.  It states that:

“Independent auditors have confirmed that Hillingdon is the most efficient Council in London and the eighth best in the whole of the UK.  This means we are spending your money wisely.”

The claim is based on an article published in the May 2009 edition of the Local Government Chronicle summarizing the returns Councils in England, not the UK,  made about the “efficiency savings” they achieved in 2008/9.  The percentage savings reported  by Hillingdon, boosted by a large carry forward from the previous year, was indeed the highest in London.

However the Chronicle article points out “.. a council which is already lean will find it harder to generate efficiency savings than one that has more fat to trim”.   It is commendable that the council trimmed off  more fat than the other London Boroughs in 2008/9. But it cannot as a consequence claim it is now the leanest i.e. the most efficient.    It might just as easily be the fattest / least efficient.  The returns reviewed  in the article throw no light on this one way or the other.

Also, who are these independent auditors?  The article was written by a journalist using the raw data posted on the Department for Communities and Local Government website. It specifically  makes the point that the figures have not been audited.

If the author of the People article wanted an up-to-date audited assessment of how wisely and efficiently our money is being spent by the Council they only had to look at the September 2009 “Use Of Resources Report” from its auditors Deloittes.  They could have quoted the following points from it:

“Understanding costs and achieving efficiencies  - score 2  - meets only minimum requirements”.

“When compared to nearest neighbours, the Council’s costs lie above average in all areas”

“The Audit Commission Value for Money (VFM) profiles indicate that unit costs are higher than average in LBH”

It is most puzzling, particularly as we are coming up to an election year, that the author of the People article got things so wrong
.

Please note that all of the documents referred to can be viewed via the “Performance Assessments” and “Misleading Claims” pages of the hillingdon-watch web site.

I hope this is of help.

Peter Silverman
www.hillingdon-watch.org.uk   
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, HA4 7DA
01895 625770
 

Cllr Tony Eginton’s Letter of resignation from the LB Hillingdon’s Audit Committee

Cllr Tony Eginton’s list of matters to be investigated by the LBH  Compliance Officer