OnePlace to rate them – shame it’s down

The Government’s new OnePlace site, where you can find out all about the performance of your local authority and its partners, had gone down within minutes of being plugged on Radio 4’s Today programme and, if the Conservatives win the next election, may be down permanently.

The rating system marks a significant break with the previous star ratings awarded to local authorities.

One outcome is that old and new ratings can’t be compared – they measure different things about different organisations. The new assessments are largely in the form of a narrative. Instead of long tables and points scores, we have a commentary on how the local authority, PCT, police and other partners are doing.

For example, Stockport’s report says

Residents generally like to live in Stockport. A recent survey shows 85 per cent of Stockport residents are satisfied with their immediate local area as a place to live. This is broadly the same as the average for similar areas and the national average of 81 per cent.

Another confusing issue is red and green flags.

Through numerous reports on all sorts of things, we’re used to green being used to mean that all is OK. If you’re green, it’s fine; if not, it’s a problem. That’s not the case here. As the Audit Office explains:

We use a green flag to highlight where others can learn from outstanding achievements or improvements or an innovation that has very promising prospects of success. We use a red flag to highlight where we have significant concerns about results and future prospects that are not being tackled adequately. This means that local partners need to do something more or different to improve these prospects

So in most cases, for most services, the report will give no flags at all and that might not be a problem. Indeed, a local authority could be running a service excellently, delivering everything it should to a high standard, and not get a green flag as it isn’t innovative. Not a problem as long as readers understand that.

Once the site recovers from this morning’s onslaught and comes up again, expect political types across the country to go through the reports for suitable quotes.

Expect, also, those criticised to point out all sorts of faults with the methodology and rating system, or to suggest it’s simply got the answer wrong. Given the limitations of any assessment of this kind, it would be amazing if at least some of those criticisms didn’t hold up.

The Conservatives have said they’ll scrap the whole thing if they get into power – too expensive and time consuming for too little benefit.

The Guardian reports comments by Edward Lister, the Conservative leader of Wandsworth council.

This new regime is too bland and too superficial to provide any meaningful insights. In attempting to cover just about every aspect of public life in the area, the reports simply descend into generalities. Despite the huge effort in cost and time, there is nothing here that provides any added value for our taxpayers. We are not going to waste another year propping up such a wasteful and poorly directed system.

With the full reports into every aspect of the work not just of local authorities but also their local partners coming in at under twenty pages of narrative, he may have a point. Wandsworth, by the way, was rated highly in the assessment.

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This entry was posted in Local government and News.
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2 Comments

  • Really

    Does this sort of vacuous nonsense make anyone better informed (from Lancashire)
    “Educational outcomes are mostly good, but this hides variation across different geographical areas and groups of children and young people.”

    “Overall Lancashire is a safe place to live, but some local areas experience higher crime.”

    In two tier areas these reports are a hotchpotch of meaningless anecdote. A comparison of any services between say Fylde and Pendle is hardly comparing like with like.

One Trackback

  • By Daily View 2×2: 10 December 2009 on Thu 10th December 2009 at 7:49 am.

    […] we reported yesterday, the Audit Commission launched One Place, a website listing government inspection results of all […]

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