Peer review praises revitalised and ambitious County Council

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Local Government experts have recognised significant improvements and commended management and leadership at Somerset County Council.

The Council invited a Corporate Peer Challenge from the Local Government Association as part of its commitment to continued development and improvement.

The team of senior staff from other local authorities visited in March and the feedback report published this week identifies ‘many good and some outstanding elements to what SCC does and the role and influence it has’.

It highlights ‘impressive’ developments in approaches to Adult Social Care and the ‘turnaround’ in Children’s Social Care which ‘should not be under estimated’ and, the report says, is ‘reflective of a revitalised and ambitious council’.

The last such inspection took place in October 2014 and the report notes a sea change in the council’s approach and standing with partner organisations, to the point where several external stakeholders consider the County Council to be their ‘partner of choice’.

The political and managerial leadership is described as being instrumental in creating a culture for more effective partnership working and a resolute attention on leading for, within and across Somerset.

The report also highlights the need for the authority to address its financial challenges, notably overspending in children’s service, and ensure that more savings are fully achieved.

Leader of the Council, Councillor David Fothergill, said: “I’m delighted to see the many positives in this report which are testament to a huge amount of hard work from our staff.

“We have really moved the Council forward in the last four years and now have a strong vision for the future that we will continue to work with our partners to take forward.

“The financial picture is, as everyone knows, challenging for all local authorities – no surprise given the huge reductions in funding and increased demand for our services. But, the report is clear that we understand the challenge and concludes that we can meet it and build upon our strengths’.