Local authority peer challenge 101
- 11 April 2019
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
Dennis Skinner of the Local Government Association has written a short introduction to the “peer challenge”, a mechanism by which local authorities can have their approaches tested and evaluated by other practitioners within the sector, but from outside their own organisation.
Commissioned by individual councils, this involves a small team of ‘peers’ spending time at a council to offer challenge and share learning.
At the heart of the process are experienced local government councillors and officers, who last year alone donated 2,300 hours of their time as ‘peers’ at a council with which they have no direct association, to contribute to its improvement.
It is an incredibly powerful demonstration of our sector-led approach. As fellow local government practitioners, peers bring an immediate credibility, trust and mutual respect to the challenge process.
In our evaluations, 93 per cent of chief executives and leaders who responded said the corporate peer challenge at their council had had a positive impact on the delivery of their council’s priorities two years on.
Skinner also provides a bullet-list summary of the peer challenge concept:
- It is a process commissioned by a council.
- A small team of local government officers and councillors spend time at the council as peers, to provide challenge and share learning.
- It is a tool for improvement, not an inspection.
- It is carried out to your specification aimed at improving, not judging, your council.
- It does not deliver a scored assessment and is not reported to government.
- A corporate peer challenge will include leadership, governance, corporate capacity and financial resilience.
- You can have bespoke peer challenges focused on adult social care, children’s services and planning, among other areas.
It would be interesting to see how peer challenge correlates with improved service delivery as perceived by front-line workers and communties, as well as by the executive branch — perhaps that might be a useful next step for the programme?