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Paper 7 - 26 November 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES 26 November 1999

CENTRAL-LOCAL INFORMATION PARTNERSHIP (CLIP) "QUALITY OF LIFE" INDICATORS PILOT PROJECT

Report by CLIP Contacts for Eastleigh Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council

RECOMMENDATION

That the work on quality of life indicators be encouraged and a mechanism for sharing experience gained be developed.

SUMMARY

Eastleigh Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council are two of thirty authorities in a national pilot project developing "quality of life" indicators. The indicators are relevant to work on Local Agenda 21, Community Plans and Best Value.

The two authorities will therefore be gaining experience that will benefit all authorities in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area. A mechanism for sharing the experience from the project has not been suggested at present as the work is applicable to the work of many different professional networks. This report introduces the project, including a list of the indicators to be included in the pilot.

1. The LGA, IDeA, Audit Commission and DETR have been working together over several years to develop indicators as measures of progress towards sustainable development. The group managing this work is called CLIP, the Central-Local Information Partnership. They aim to promote these types of indicators and to create a balance between consistent reporting nationally and the need for local flexibility. The indicators being tested for the pilot project are detailed in Appendix 1.

2.The CLIP Steering Group are producing guidance for all authorities on the selection, data collection and reporting of quality of life indicators. Thirty local authorities have been selected as pilots to test the guidance and recommended indicators. Eastleigh Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council are pilot authorities from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

LINKS TO LOCAL AGENDA 21, COMMUNITY PLANNING AND BEST VALUE

3. The previous label for these indicators as "Sustainable Development Indicators" or "Sustainability Indicators" highlights their roots in Local Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development.

4. As a measure of the state of a particular area or community, Quality of Life indicators do not measure the performance of particular services of particular organisations. They are outcome measures for the actions of various organisations and many individuals. They are therefore a very useful tool for measuring progress towards aims set out in Community Plans where many organisations make contributions to overall aims.

5. The links between these indicators and Best Value is beginning to become clear as guidance and thinking on Best Value and Best Value Performance Plans develops. The proposed duty for local authorities to promote the environmental, economic and social wellbeing of their area together with increasing emphasis on partnership working highlight the importance of these indicators to the Best Value process.

6. The Government also recognise these important links as reference is made to the CLIP project in documents referring to the development of Best Value Performance Plans. The DETR/Audit Commission joint consultation document on Best Value and local authority performance indicators for 2000/2001 published in September states that:

"The Commission feel that it is inappropriate to propose the introduction of comprehensive set of 'quality of life' indicators for 2000. Nevertheless, given the work already being carried out by the CLIP Task Force on Sustainable Development the Commission believes that such indicators could be introduced as part of the ACPIs set of indicators for future years. The Commission proposes to work with the Government and local authorities with a view to developing a proposed set of quality of life indicators for 2001. Where appropriate, these might use indicators from the CLIP menu of local sustainable development indicators together possibly with other quality of life indicators."

7. The relationship between the quality of life indicators and other performance indicators also reflects the structure for indicators in the UK strategy for sustainable development, A Better Quality of Life. A small number of headline indicators (approx 15) are used to summarise the state of the UK, with a much larger number of underlying indicators (approx 150) reporting on specific topics.

TIMETABLE

8. The timetable for the pilot project is very tight as DETR would like to publish draft guidance at the end of March 2000. The pilot phase of the project therefore needs to be completed in January. If pilot authorities are unable to complete the work on certain indicators the experience gained will still be shared.

9. Detailed work on the indicators will commence in mid-October when definitions are finalised following a discussions between the Steering Group and pilot authorities.

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

10. Eastleigh and Portsmouth obviously serve different communities and therefore the choice of indicators to pilot is different. Eastleigh has already undertaken its own pilot project on indicators which resulted in the report, Eastleigh on Track. In order to emphasise the need for a local dimension Eastleigh will be revisiting some of the Eastleigh on Track indicators in addition to those being produced from the CLIP list. The indicators developed as part of this project will also be included in Eastleigh's Best Value Performance Plan.

11. Portsmouth has not written a Local Agenda 21 plan, as yet. However, there has been research into outcomes (measuring the impact of the council's actions on people's lives) and quality of life indicators for the last eighteen months. The indicators which have been produced as a result of this project are based around Portsmouth City Council's Core Priorities, which are based on public consultation.

SHARING THE EXPERIENCE

12. Eastleigh and Portsmouth Councils are going to gain significant experience on indicators as the pilot project progresses. This experience should be shared with other Hampshire and Isle of Wight authorities to help them to produce indicators more quickly as and when the Government demands. No mechanism has been suggested for sharing this information as the work on indicators crosses many professional boundaries and therefore to use one professional network may be inappropriate.

CONCLUSION

13. Eastleigh Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council are pilot authorities in a project being run by the LGA, IDeA, Audit Commission and DETR to test "quality of life" indicators. The indicators have relevance to work on Local Agenda 21, Community Plans and Best Value and is therefore of Value to all authorities in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area.

BRIAN BARKER 
Eastleigh Borough Council

RUTH SAVAGE
Portsmouth City Council

(copy of Appendix available on request)

Last update: 13/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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