Accounts Commission annual report 2016/17
It has been another testing year for councils in Scotland. They face increasingly complex challenges and are doing a difficult job with less resource.
Our work over the last year highlights greater pressures, for example on social work. Public satisfaction with some services has declined but there is also some evidence of progress where councils have grasped the nettle of change and new ways of working.
The Commission continues to fulfil its dual role of scrutiny, providing assurance that public money is well spent, as well as promoting improvement.
The year also ended on a poignant note for us with the retiral of our chair, Douglas Sinclair. Sadly, Douglas subsequently died.
Douglas served the Commission for ten years, first as a member, then as deputy chair and from December 2013 as chair. In that time he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience from his many senior roles in local government and decades of public service.
He was a passionate advocate for local democracy and a champion of high-quality services for local people. Under his leadership the Commission greatly strengthened its role as independent public watchdog acting in the public interest.
Douglas and his service to the Commission and to public service will be greatly missed.
Ronnie Hinds, Acting Chair of the Accounts Commission
We published these main national reports below, along with four Best Value audits, impact reports on School education and Borrowing and treasury management, and a scrutiny supplement for School education.
We also updated our report on How councils work: Roles and working relationships in councils.
Changing the way we do things
For the latest in our How Councils Work series, we held round table discussions to pool insights from leading experts. Find out more about the work we produced.
We published four audits looking at how individual councils were carrying out their statutory duty to demonstrate best value and continuous improvement: South Ayrshire, Angus, Falkirk and East Dunbartonshire.
We also launched new Best Value Assurance Reports to provide more regular check-ups of how individual councils are doing. Read more about Best Value in our annual report.
Making our work more accessible
Working with others
We held meetings with councils to follow up our reports, and provided briefings on our work to Parliamentary committees.
New audit appointments
Every five years we appoint a new set of auditors to carry out our work, and new appointments took effect in 2016/17.
Measuring our impact
We produced local scrutiny plans for all councils to ensure each council keeps on track.