(2) what estimate his Department has made of the cost to central Government of inspecting local government; and what recent research his Department has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned on this matter.
This Department has made no such estimates. Assessment and inspection is carried out by a number of inspectorates, including the Audit Commission which is sponsored by Communities and Local Government (CLG). The cost to the Audit Commission of its assessment and inspection is covered by a mixture of the fees paid by local authorities and direct grant from CLG. In 2009-10, the grant from CLG for the Commission’s local government and Fire and Rescue Authority work totalled £20.2 million.
This Department has not conducted or commissioned any research on these matters. However, the Audit Commission, on behalf of the joint inspectorates responsible for Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA), commissioned an independent evaluation of CAA. This is looking at implementation and delivery of the new arrangements, co-ordination across inspectorates and the initial cost to inspected bodies under CAA. The evaluation report is expected to be published in March.
As part of the Government’s Smarter Government White Paper, CLG are leading on commitments to remove indicators that are no longer relevant or needed by April 2010 and reducing the overall number of national indicators against which local authorities will have to report their performance for the next spending period. We are also running a number of Total Place pilots and have invited them to provide information on the costs of assessment and inspection. The Department is preparing a report on Total Place which it will issue at Budget 2010. HM Treasury is leading a review of the work and number of inspectorates, supporting the Government’s aims to reduce the burdens connected to assessment and inspection.