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Local Government: Inspections

Volume 508: debated on Monday 29 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he has made an assessment of the effects of Comprehensive Area Assessment regime on the level of inspection and assessment of local authorities; and what estimate was made of the (a) cost of and (b) savings likely to be generated by that regime prior to its introduction. (324504)

The Audit Commission, on behalf of the joint inspectorates responsible for the Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA), commissioned two independent evaluation reports of the implementation and costs of the first year of the CAA. The reports were published on 17 March 2010 by Shared Intelligence and the Office for Public Management (OPM) respectively. The Shared Intelligence report demonstrates widespread support for the CAA and the move to a more risk-based approach to assessment and inspection. The OPM report indicates that the costs to councils of CAA are lower than they were for CPA by at least 15 per cent.— approximately £4 million. However, the report explains that this is a conservative estimate and the actual reduction is likely to be greater, up to £19 million. There is great variation in the costs which reflect the choices councils make about how much to spend preparing for and responding to inspection. A further 10 per cent. savings reduction is expected from one-off costs of preparation by councils in the first year of the CAA.

As part of this Department's regulatory impact assessment (RIA) of the Local Government White Paper published in 2006, we estimated costs and savings to be made from the introduction of the new CAA regime of approximately £7 million and £23 million respectively, a net reduction of £16 million.

As announced in the Smarter Government Budget progress update, Government are committed to a measurable reduction in the costs of compliance with assessment and inspection for public services. We will also continue to look at how to make assessment and inspection more effective and streamlined.