Publication: Working together to increase collaboration and accelerate improvement

by Accounts Commission

Our Strategic Alliance - one year on

Blog: Sarah Gadsden, Chief Executive, Improvement Service and Dr William Moyes, Chair, Accounts Commission

One year on, our joint commitment to increase collaboration and focus on accelerating the improvement and pace of change across Local Government services, is having an impact.

During the last 12 months, the Accounts Commission and the Improvement Service have worked closely together on reporting and supporting change and improvement across three of the dominant pressures facing Scotland’s councils: the multiple impacts of Covid-19, increasing service demand and financial pressures.

Our Strategic Alliance is intended to bring together our respective roles to help deliver change and improvement within Local Government. The alliance is having clear benefits, enriching our work, our reporting and proving valuable to colleagues. This includes:

  • aligning our reporting and other work across our business and work programmes
  • active involvement by Improvement Service staff in the Accounts Commission’s Local Government overview reporting advisory groups. Improvement Service data is referenced throughout these reports
  • benefitting from Improvement Service staff being active participants in the Strategic Scrutiny Group’s Community Empowerment Advisory Group
  • Improvement Service staff input into the Accounts Commission's joint report with the Auditor General for Scotland, tracking the impact of Covid-19 on Scotland’s public finances
  • jointly hosting an event for education directors and elected members, focused on a report from the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General for Scotland on improving outcomes for young people through school education.

The input of the Improvement Service has been invaluable as the Accounts Commission has developed a new approach to auditing Best Value, including across Scotland’s 30 Integration Joint Boards. Joint working has brought together a wealth of expertise and experience.

Collaboration has been fundamental in a joint exercise to map shared priorities across our respective work programmes. This will better enable both organisations to take an increasingly flexible and agile approach to planning and delivering our work programmes.

Following the recent Local Government elections, the Accounts Commission will be working with the Improvement Service’s new board to reinforce a commitment to our shared priorities. This focus continues to add value and insight into the work of both our organisations.

And we have clear ambitions for our future work and collaboration. This includes:

  • collaborating on planned future reporting, including work on child poverty and the Fair Work agenda
  • the Accounts Commission will continue to ensure councils are signposted to support available from the Improvement Service in our reporting on best value
  • co-hosting events in areas of mutual interest.

The future for Local Government is set to be challenging and demanding. Councils are at the centre of supporting our communities to recover from the multiple impacts of Covid-19, while they must also focus on critical issues including climate change and challenging worsening inequalities.

It is our shared ambition that the work of our respective organisations adds value, support and impact to both officers and councillors. By collaborating on areas of shared interest, together our work will have a greater impact.

Find out more about the work of the Improvement Service and the Accounts Commission.