Reviewing Services

This short chapter is an introduction to the following four. It outlines the thinking behind, and the working of, the Service Review and Information Sub-committee, which had three roles:

  1. Acting as client for the Compulsory Competitive Tendering process
  2. Monitoring improvements to the quality of services
  3. Overseeing the centralised awarding of grants to the voluntary sector

Jump to Editor’s Comments

Striving for Quality
Developing a Systematic Approach
Dissatisfaction of Councillors
Voluntary Sector Grants
The Work of the Service Review Sub-committee
Audit Commission Performance Indicators
Peer Group Review
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Editor’s Comments

This chapter was titled ‘Striving for Quality’ by Kath, but I have demoted that to a sub-heading because I felt the chapter wasn’t about only that and it was misleading. I also felt this chapter jumped about a bit. It seemed odd to me to fit the voluntary sector grants administration in there and there isn’t adequate explanation of why that was felt to fit. Without changing the substance, I have reordered some of the paragraphs, grouping the information about the voluntary sector grants together. (I had to add a sentence and reword the opening sentence of the next section to make it work.) The explanation is that this was also part of a change in philosophy happening across the country (government led) whereby grants awarded to ‘good causes’ became instead contracts for service delivery. So the voluntary sector also became contractors to the Council with service level agreements, in the same way as contractors. So it makes perfect sense to have awarding and monitoring these ‘voluntary sector contracts’ under the same sub-committee.

I moved the paragraph about the 1995 abolishing of the sub-committee to the end, because that seemed the least bad place for it, but it just sticks out to me as a floating PS.


[1] The Audit Commission was an independent public corporation that existed between 1 April 1983 and 31 March 2015, which had the remit to “work with local authorities and their partners to improve services for local people” (source: viewed March 2016)

[2] Editor’s note; These two paragraphs were later in the text appearing in a chronological order but it felt better to me to put all of the information about voluntary sector grants together.

[3] The Audit Commission specified the indicators of performance which local authorities were obliged to publish under the Local Government Act 1992. More information about this process is available in the Audit Commission’s Report & Accounts for Year Ended March 1993

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Further Reading

Since 1983, the Audit Commission has published a series of corporate strategy documents, guidance and other papers to support auditors and audited bodies in the exercise of the Commission’s statutory duties. The majority of these corporate papers are available from the archived Audit Commission website

The Audit Commission was replaced by Public Sector Audit Appointments Ltd, National Audit Office, Financial Reporting Council and Cabinet Office in April 2015. An explanation of the transfer of the functions of the Audit Commission is available here:

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