Central Scotland Fire and Rescue provides an effective, low cost service, an Audit Scotland report has stated. But it also maintained the service would be better placed to provide best value if it had stronger performance arrangements. 'Many of the basic building blocks are not yet in place. It needs to develop a culture of continuous improvement, with the board being more proactive in its scrutiny role', the report confirms.

The Accounts Commission's findings say that the service is effective and low cost, with a sound approach to budgeting and financial control. There are good aspects to how it manages staff, as can be seen in consistently low sickness absence rates.

But the Commission is concerned that many of the building blocks which would help the service meet its best value duties are still not in place, compromising the service's understanding of its strategic role and ability to improve.

The report states: 'It is especially important to have good management practices at times of financial challenge and change such as this. Its approach to performance management and assets is underdeveloped and there also needs to be a more effective approach to risk management, with a clearer focus on prevention. The Fire Board is passive rather than proactive in its role and should be doing more to scrutinise and challenge the service on its strategy and performance. The councillors need more support to be better able to do this'.

Chair of the Accounts Commission, John Baillie, said: "Central Scotland Fire and Rescue provides an effective service and it is encouraging to know that it wishes to improve and change. It still needs to do more to ensure that it is providing Best Value. There needs to be a stronger focus on management of performance and risks and councillors on the fire board need to do more to scrutinise and challenge strategy and performance."

The Commission also emphasises the need for Central Scotland Fire and Rescue to keep its focus on improving its service to the public whilst fire and rescue services are being restructured on a national basis.


Posted February 6th, 2012 at 0840 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com