Whilst a peer review team being onsite in an authority can be intensive, the process itself is designed to cause as little burden and disruption as possible, it therefore:
- relies mainly on already published information and documentation
- seeks to dovetail with any ongoing self assessment and regulatory work in the authority
- remains both focused and intensive, and normally lasts no longer than 4 days.
The approach is informal and everybody’s views are respected. The Peer Team’s priority is to achieve a positive experience and outcome for the authority. Any information is provided in confidence and is treated as non-attributable to individuals.
The peer review process is all about encouraging the authority, its members and officers to provide honest and objective reflection on the authority’s approach to business, service delivery, governance arrangements and financial and improvement planning. The peer review seeks to draw out the strengths of the authority as well as identify where the authority may need to improve.
As noted above, the focus and scope of each peer review will vary but peer interviewers or focus group facilitators will seek to encourage interviewees and/or participants to share their views and perspectives around issues such as:
- things the council does well and areas in need of improvement;
- the authorities’ strategy and vision, how this strategy and vision has been developed, how embedded is it and how well it is being delivered;
- the corporate capacity, finances, human resources and governance arrangements of the authority;
- how the council engages with the public and works with partners.
Typically a peer review follows the process:
Step 1: The local authority agrees the scope and focus of the peer review with the WLGA 3 months in advance, following discussions with relevant regulators
Step 2: The WLGA identifies a peer team which is agreed with the local authority. The peer team normally comprises 4-6 people, and may include officers and elected members from other authorities and WLGA Associates, professionals with specific expertise and experience in areas of relevance to the review
Step 3: The authority provides the WLGA with corporate documents such as organisational structures, Corporate Plans, Single Integrated Plans, Mid term Financial Plans and any recent regulatory reports
Step 4: Peers undertake a desk-top analysis of authority’s documents
Step 5: The authority prepares an interview schedule in discussion with the WLGA in the weeks preceding the review
Step 6: The onsite peer review lasts between 3-4 days (depending on the focus), and includes interviews with senior members, officers and partners, interviews and/or focus groups/workshops with wider members, Heads of Service and front-line staff. There may also be observation of relevant meetings
Step 7: The peer review team provide a presentation with observations and/or conclusions at the end of the review and submit a written report to the authority, normally within 5 weeks. The report is the property of the authority, but it is encouraged that the report is made publicly available
For more information contact: Daniel Hurford