APSE performance networks has been working with Northern Ireland authorities to develop a new benchmarking project, which focuses on measuring success and driving excellence in local councils. APSE’s Debbie Johns, Head of performance networks, tells us more about this exciting project.
In Northern Ireland, under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, there is a new duty for each council to secure continuous improvement in the exercise of its functions. They are now expected to collect information relating to their performance in order to assess their work in previous financial years and, as far as is practicable, against the performance of other councils.
This is where APSE performance networks can help. We have been working with local councils in Northern Ireland to ensure that performance networks can meet the new responsibilities that councils now have under the Act. Eight of the 11 councils in Northern Ireland are now subscribed to the project, which stretches over these service areas:
Existing, relevant benchmarking modules have been refined and we have created bespoke new performance modules by collaborating with the Northern Ireland councils. These are for planning, community development, economic development, cultural services and corporate services.
We believe that the modules could be highly informative for other APSE authorities, too. Data collection is now underway and the initial set of performance reports will be issued winter 2016-17. Though it’s dependent on the successful development of these modules, we’re optimistic that these new services could be rolled out to councils throughout the UK, becoming much welcomed additions to the APSE performance networks family of services.
We’re continuing to liaise with the Department for Communities over the development work in Northern Ireland. A special thematic forum will be held at the forthcoming APSE performance networks seminar in Blackpool on 1 December 2016, which will feature a presentation from Nichola Creagh, from the Local Government Policy Division at the Department for Communities.
As part of this project, we have developed new performance measures in a number of highly relevant areas. These include: