New stats analyse council performance

Nottingham City Council is the worst local authority in England, while Torridge District Council in Devon is the best, according to government performance statistics.

The data, published by the Office for Local Government (Oflog), and analysed by the Times, reveals that some councils have recycling rates that are twice as good as others and that some authorities are failing to process half of planning applications on time while others are not late on a single one.

Ministers set up Oflog last summer to provide “authoritative and accessible” performance data to support improvement in local government. The agency’s figures, published before local elections on Thursday, also show the extent to which councils are struggling with debts, with six local authorities already having declared themselves effectively bankrupt since 2021.

Oflog measures councils across 27 categories in five main areas: waste management, corporate and finance, adult social care, planning and roads. 

The best councils were Torridge, East Cambridgeshire, Rockford, Malden and Staffordshire Moorlands. 

The worst were Nottingham, Liverpool, Derby, Birmingham and Harrow.

Responding to analysis of the data from the Times, Cllr Abi Brown, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Improvement and Innovation Board, said:

“Councils continue to face huge financial challenges, with individual local authorities facing competing demands on budgets that are often unique to their local area and specific circumstances."

She said: "Differences in spending between councils are natural responses to these differing needs while we also know that variation in spending on certain services is often driven by factors outside the control of councils, such as deprivation and demographics.

“While councils continue to transform services, it is unsustainable to expect them to keep doing more for less in the face of unprecedented cost and demand pressures.

“However, as part of our role to support and improve local government, the LGA is committed to helping councils to be as efficient and effective as possible." 

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