Moray Council failing to make sufficient progress

Moray Council must accelerate plans to transform how it works and delivers services, demonstrating it can sustain the pace and momentum to change.

In a new report, the Accounts Commission says the council has been told in repeated reviews over the past 18 years that while it has made improvements, these have not been fast enough.

Plans to transform how the council works and deliver services must be accelerated and be more ambitious. The Commission says the council’s modernisation plans must set out clear targets, deadlines and lines of responsibility. This is vital to manage resources and money effectively to deliver services that improve the lives of local people.

Unless this happens, the council will fail to identify savings needed to tackle a budget gap of over £31 million. The Commission says it is extremely concerned the council is relying on as-yet unidentified savings and the unsustainable use of financial reserves.

The council must comply with its legal obligation to publish timely reporting on how well it is performing. Doing so will enable the council to respond more quickly to areas of poor performance.

The council intends to produce a combined action plan, setting out how it will address the issues highlighted by the Commission. This includes bringing in external support to help improve collaborative working across political parties.

Jo Armstrong, Chair of the Accounts Commission said:

It is nearly 20 years since we first published a Best Value report on Moray Council and progress on plans to transform how it works and delivers services has been frustratingly slow. This has limited the council’s ability to make vital financial savings, ensure strong financial management and produce accurate financial forecasts. Relying on money from reserves and one-off savings is simply unsustainable.

Recent action to bring in external support is welcome, but we have real concerns the council won’t be able to attract and retain enough senior staff, with the right skills, to deliver on the transformation that’s required. Moray Council must take note of the Accounts Commission’s findings which are there to support the council to make the improvements necessary.