The Most Efficient Council in London
A report presented to the Council meeting of 5th Nov 2009 stated that: “This is demonstrated by the Council being recognised as the most efficient in London and the eighth best in the UK”
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.
This was drawn to the attention of the Council’s Head Of Democratic Services in an e-mail and a formal complaint has been sent to the Deputy Chief Executive.
These efficiency claims contrast sharply with the assessment of the Council’s own Auditors who in their September “Uses Of Resources” report said:
“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, and in some areas, such as adult social care, the Council is one of the most expensive.”
In spite of this the claims were repeated and embellished in the Nov/Dec Hillingdon People Magazine. An article on page 30 stated that:
“ Independent Auditors have confirmed that Hillingdon is the most efficient Council in London”
The Local Government Chronicle article on which the claims had been based specifically says that the figures had not been audited. This has been pointed out to council leader Cllr Ray Puddifoot in an e-mail of 09/12/09
At the 16th December Audit Committee meeting Cllr Tony Eginton, a Labour Councillor, asked a partner from Deloitte’s, LBH’s external auditors, in reference to the scope of their work, whether the claim was correct and was told that it was not.
At the subsequent meeting on 11th March 2010 Mr Eginton complained that this exchange had been omitted from the draft minutes. In spite of this the minutes were approved by the votes of the three other councillors on the committee (all Conservatives). He prompltly resigned in protest. In his resignation letter he says: “At the very least, it seems to me that the claim was made negligently and there is a significant possibility that it was made in the full knowledge that it was wrong”.
Cllr Egingon has written to the Council’s Compliance Officer asking him to investigate this and other matters.
See Performance Assessments page for more information.
See Cllr Mike Cox’s comments Incompetent and dangerous
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