Clean bill of health for County Council's accounts
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Hampshire County Council has earned a clean bill of health from the Audit Commission for the way it manages public funds to secure value for money for taxpayers.
The watchdog has published its Annual Governance Report for the Council's accounts and the Hampshire Pension Fund for 2011/12.
It has endorsed the County Council's approach to securing "economy, efficiency and effectiveness" and delivering on a challenging £100million savings target while maintaining the quality of services. There were no areas requiring action or improvement.
Auditors have highlighted the early action taken by the County Council to transform services and create new opportunities for joint working and business development in response to the tough financial climate and cuts in central government funding.
The audit report also notes that in priority areas, Ofsted has rated Hampshire's Children's Services as 'excellent', with strong performance sustained, while the majority of adult care settings inspected by the Care Quality Commission met the five standards reviewed.
The Audit Commission's value for money profile shows that Hampshire County Council's spend per head of population is in the lowest five per cent of all county councils, while it has one of the lowest council taxes. This is set against the Council having one of the highest number of adults receiving home care services and being within the highest 20 per cent of numbers of adults receiving day care. It also notes that Hampshire has good levels of school provision and is in the highest 25 per cent for level of attainment by children, including those with special needs.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said:
"It's very good news to receive external validation again for the way we are tackling the cuts to public sector funding while maintaining the quality of services and at the lowest cost to the council tax payer. Our transformation programme is not just about achieving the £100million savings over two years, but laying the ground for investment for the future. We recognised the challenges councils will face over coming years and so our focus is on growth and improvement and ensuring services are designed on a sustainable basis.
"A good example is the way we are addressing the issue of rising demand for adult social care, which is a national concern. In Hampshire, we are using reserves on a one-off basis to invest in the development of Extra Care, a different model of care allowing choice and independence. These strategies are helping us to build the resilience we need to guard against reducing levels of public sector funding and in doing so, position the County Council to provide the best value and the best outcomes for Hampshire in future years."
The Annual Governance Report will be discussed by the Cabinet on Monday 29 October 2012. The meeting starts at 11am and it can be watched live or afterwards on the archive.