So today it was announced that Eric Pickles is scrapping the Audit Commission. The Audit Commission was flawed but this seems a bit much. Surely reform would be a better option? Well it would be but Eric Pickles is a man with a mission and that mission is revenge against an organisation he has long had a problem with.
What better way to deal with your personal issues than to abuse your position and ruin the lives of more than 2000 people? There really is nothing like someone letting his power and his own personal vendettas interfere with his professional judgement. This means that now there is yet another member of the cabinet I no longer have any professional respect for.
Laving all that aside this is still a worrying move. The Audit Commission worked as a national body to look at the efficiency and performance of local authorities particularly with regard to the rather thorough by Gershon Review.
The new plan appears to be for a range of private providers to run this efficiency review service at a time when we need to be more efficient in our public service provision.
EDIT: Since I wrote this I found out that the plan is for individual authorities to get in auditors. This is even worse than I thought. That means no unified benchmarking system, no follow through required on recommendations and additional costs as each time the provider used will have to do extensive research in order to do each piece of work (ploughing through old reports, looking at comparable authorities to get an idea of recent events and so on). This plan also means that authorities may be able to get away with not publishing the reports in full, at least not straight away, as though an FOI request can be processed some may choose to wait until one is received to publish. Of course that is not the only way a local authority can conceal and spin the report - if a local authority if commissioning someone to do their audit they can influence what is and is not reported and how the report is written. The local authority having this much control over the reporting cna mean that say closing many services for old people can be reported as a saving, even if the result is only a short term gain, for a long term rise in spending for emergency services.
This means the new system proposed is more expensive, less transparent and less accountable. Way to go Eric Pickles you have just created a great opportunity for Local Authorities to cut corners and spend too much money anyway. Its the stupidest short term cut with long term financial implications yet from the Con-Dems. Now we juts need to see if someone can trump it.