Agenda item

LGA Corporate Peer Challenge Report and Action Plan

Report from the Assistant Chief Executive.



That Cabinet:


1.    Note the observations and key recommendations made by the Corporate Peer Team to the Council.


2.    Approve the high-level action plan which is the Council’s response to the findings.


The Chair invited the Leader of the Council to introduce Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Challenge (CPC) Report and Action Plan. It was outlined that authorities were encouraged to have a peer review at least once every five years and the process was a way of assessing where local authorities are in terms of the financial visibility, service delivery and organisational health. CPCs were focused on ensuring that Councils have the capacity, governance, leadership, and finance to deliver their ambition. The process was not an inspection and was designed to be forward-looking to help accelerate and drive improvement.


During the Council’s CPC, the peer team considered the following five themes, which form the core components of all Corporate Peer Challenges:


1) local priorities and outcomes

2) organisational and place leadership

3) governance and culture

4) financial planning and management

5) capacity for improvement.


In addition to these five areas, it was outlined that the council asked the peer team to provide observations and feedback on the council’s progress in the last five years and the work been undertaken to create an inclusive economy.


The CPC was delivered by experienced elected member and officer peers who were selected by the LGA based on their relevant expertise. The review took place in June 2023 and during this time the team gathered information from over 40 meetings; spoke to over hundred people including council staff and members and external stakeholders: reviewed over 70 pieces of evidence and went on a tour of the town centre and parts of the wider Borough.


The CPC feedback report provided a summary of the team’s findings, which noted that the council was an impressive organisation that served the town well.


The report included seven recommendations to support the Council’s continuous improvement journey:


·       Recommendation 1:  that the Council’s achievements be celebrated.

·       Recommendation 2: that an externally facing narrative of place be developed to promote and market the borough and capitalise on Rotherham’s assets. 

·       Recommendation 3: that the significant investments underway be used to support a more inclusive economic future.

·       Recommendation 4: that effective pathways and mechanisms for local people, especially young people, be developed to benefit from inclusive growth to help deliver improved health outcomes and address inequalities.

·       Recommendation 5: that performance management be reviewed to demonstrate impact and an improvement in outcomes in delivering the council’s ambition; and the strong leadership, capacity and capability of the top-team be used to drive and deliver further organisational transformations and change across the borough at pace.

·       Recommendation 6: that the Neighbourhood working model be built upon , to develop a clearer and shared understanding of integrated locality working across the public sector and increase the pace of digital transformation across the organisation to deliver improved outcomes for residents and the customer experience.

·       Recommendation 7: that the medium-term financial strategy be kept under review – testing assumptions and undertaking sensitivity – and reported to Members on a regular basis.


A high-level action plan had been developed in response to the findings (attached as appendix 2), which would be overseen by the Chief Executive. Examples were given of initiatives being undertaken against each of the recommendations. Once approved the action plan would be published on both the Council’s and the LGA’s website. A progress review would be scheduled in 2024, with a further progress report published 12 months after the CPC.


The Chair invited comments and questions from the Board and a discussion on the following issues ensued:


·       The commitment to celebrate the Borough’s achievements was welcomed, particularly in respect of the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

·       Further clarification was sought on who the stakeholders were and the time scales for discussions to take place. It was clarified that this involved the Rotherham Together Partnership, public sector partners, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of private sector stakeholders. The meeting will take place in the next eight weeks.

·       It was noted that there was a recommendation to engage with the workforce to obtain their ideas for capturing success and sharing these ideas, clarification was sought whether this would also be undertaken with residents. The Leader outlined that the Communications Team had been challenged to seek ways for Rotherham residents to speak in their own words about the things that worked for them and what was going well.

·       Further detail was requested about how negative perceptions of the town centre (including safety) could be challenged. The significant investment into public realm was cited and the developments of the cinema and restaurants were referenced as positive improvements.

·       Continued oversight of financial planning and management was identified as a key challenge, given current economic volatility, budget pressures and service demands. It was noted that the council’s planning was cited in the report as “robust and it was noted that there was strong stewardship of financial resources. 

·       The comments in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion were noted. It was felt that further work could be undertaken to understand communities and strengthen the Council’s approach to equalities.

·       Further details were sought about communications and sharing information within wards. It was observed that the ward newsletters were important in making sure that people understood what was happening in their immediate community as well as the borough more broadly.

·       Clarification was sought if there was a dis-proportionate focus on town centre investment compared with other parts of the borough. The Leader outlined the investments which had been undertaken as part of the town and villages fund scheme across Rotherham. However, he suggested that town centre improvements would play a significant role in improving perceptions of the borough as a whole. Town centre regeneration had emerged as a clear priority in extensive consultation undertaken with residents.

·       Details were sought about how the review team had been selected. It was outlined that the LGA had selected the peers and that the approach taken was standard practice.

·       It was noted that a number of retail premises were empty. It was clarified that the Council had relatively few shop properties in the town centre however, it was noted that work was being undertaken with landlords to address shopfront dressings. It was recognised that this was a short-term measure.

·       The Section 151 Officer offered assurances that the accounts, general reserves, associated risks, and financial planning was under constant review from appropriate bodies, including the Audit Committee and external auditors. It was outlined that whilst general reserves may be lower in comparison to other authorities, the auditors were satisfied that these were at a safe level.




1)    That a further report be submitted to the Board following the six month progress check prior to the end of the current municipal year.


2)    That Cabinet be advised that the following recommendations be supported:


That Cabinet:


1.    Note the observations and key recommendations made by the Corporate Peer Team to the Council.


2.    Approve the high-level action plan which is the Council’s response to the findings.





Supporting documents: