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Highland Council demonstrates improving performance

7th March 2019

Photograph of Highland Council demonstrates improving performance

Overall the Council's key performance indicators (KPIs) for 2017-18 are performing well with 81% (22) either improving or being maintained.

The principles that underpin the Council's values include that the Council will be fair, open and accountable. This means the Council will measure performance, report on it publicly and listen to communities, to ensure the Council is delivering services that provide best value for our citizens.

An annual report to Council provides information on the outcome of local and nationally benchmarked Statutory Performance Indicators (SPIs) for 2017/18. The report shows improved performance by 5% or more in 2017/18 on 38 indicators, with 29 indicators showing a decline of 5% or more in performance.

Overall, 102 (78%) of SPIs improved by 5% or more or performance was maintained compared to 77% the previous year. The report also shows that for the 80 indicators which are also nationally benchmarked there are 10 in the top quartile and 19 in the bottom quartile.

Leader of the Council Margaret Davidson thanked staff for the continued improvement. She said: "At a time of increasing financial pressure and simultaneous increasing demand this is a fair performance. However, the Council must be honest about areas where performance is not good enough and identify ways to do things differently and better. This is the basis on which the Council's budget for 2019/20 onwards has been built and will be supported through a strategic performance framework moving forwards.

"One area where we know we can do better is supporting our looked after children to be cared for in the Highlands and to enable them to achieve their full potential at school and in life. I am hopeful that the measures being put in place this year will help us to better fulfil our corporate parenting responsibilities in the future."

In a separate report to Council on Improvement Priorities the Chief Executive outlines a review of performance management arrangements which will require a significant change in the culture for the organisation and this will include developing stretching targets to drive continuous improvement in performance. The review will consider the best approaches and tools to drive continuous improvement across the organisation and this extends beyond corporate performance reporting. The planned review also links to a further report to Council on the Council's Change Programme.

The Council’s Corporate Plan sets out the strategic and operational priorities of the organisation along with the improvement priorities from the Change Programme and the Council Programme. The plan also sets out the measures and actions required to deliver and monitor the Council’s priorities for 2019-2022. The plan will be supported by a Highland Improving Performance Programme (HIPP) which sets out an approach to developing a framework for driving performance improvement consistently and robustly across the Council. Together, this approach will ensure the Council achieves its ambitions, delivers these in a sustainable way and improves performance across the organisation.

Chief Executive Donna Manson also said: "I am ambitious that we are a high performing council, and a performance framework which sets ambitious targets and regularly monitors our progress is fundamental to this. We have some great examples of high performing teams and best practice which can be shared and supported across our services. Let us build on success and challenge where things can be improved or made more efficient. This will enable us to be more sustainable into the future and to do the best for our communities."

Areas which show improvement by 10% or more between 2016/17 and 2017/18 include: Attainment (5+ awards at SCQF Level 5) by children from deprived

Backgrounds increased from 27% to 31%; The percentage of Looked After Children in kinship care increased from 17.7% to 19.5%; Cost of maintenance per street lighting unit decreased from £19.20 to £16.18 and Street lighting electricity consumption decreased from 16.6m kWh to 14.2m kWh; The number of businesses supported by the Economic Development service and Business Gateway increased from 1,061 to 1,191; The accident injury rate (reportable injuries/ No. employees *100,000) decreased from 244 to 145.

Areas where performance has decreased by 10% or more between 2016/17 and 2017/18 are: Attainment (5+ awards at SCQF Level 6) by children from deprived backgrounds decreased from 11% to 9% and School exclusion rates (per 1,000 pupils) for looked after children increased from 73.2 (2013-15) to 108.8 (2015-17); The average number of Looked After Children accommodated by the Council out with Highland increased from 27 (2016/17) to 34 (2017/18).

Also the cost of Environmental Health (per 1,000 population) increased from £14,878 to £16,940; The homelessness case duration increased from 37 to 44 weeks; The Percentage of unemployed people assisted back into work decreased from 6.0% to 4.9%.; The cost of Economic Development and Tourism services (per 1,000 population) increased from £29,416 to £40,777.

The full paper can be seen at item 11 of the agenda at


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