It’s official – “We’re getting better!”

‘Merton Council is improving well’ according to the Audit Commission who today awarded Merton, two stars, as part of their Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), a league table of councils’ performance across the UK.

This positive result comes in the wake of Merton launching its new campaign – ‘We’re getting better’, aimed at changing residents perceptions of Merton, as a council which has improved services.

Introduced in 2002, CPA originally rated Merton as a ‘weak’ council, jumping up to ‘fair’ in 2004. This year, the scoring system* has been updated; now using star ratings. Merton has been awarded two stars for its overall performance, which compared to the old system positions Merton between ‘fair’ and ‘good’.

The new system also shows councils’ direction of improvement* and assesses Merton as ‘improving well’ highlighting good progress in priority services: education, social services, lower levels of council tax and crime.

The Audit Commissions positive findings were:

· Education is now rated as ‘highly satisfactory’ by OFSTED
· Increase in council tax last year was low, and made good efficiency savings. (Merton made a commitment to freeze its council tax increase to 2.5 per cent last year and this)
· Improved partnership working has helped Merton reduce crime levels making Merton now the 4th safest borough in London
· Social Services have improved greatly to a two star service
· Improvements made in planning, repair of footways, street cleaning and recycling.

There was only one negative aspect of the assessment:

· ‘Performance management and user satisfaction levels are inconsistent across services and the Council is working to address these issues’

Chief Executive, Ged Curran said: ‘Merton is very lucky to have fantastic staff who have worked very hard to improve services for the people of Merton. We want our services to be excellent. We know that we have a long way to go with some of them but we are determined to live up to the expectations of our residents.’

Leader of the Council, Councillor Andrew Judge said: ‘Merton has been on a journey over the past four years to radically improve services. Each year we have listened to what residents have told us. Levels of council tax and crime, education, street cleaning and recycling have been at the top of our agenda because residents told us they were their top concerns. We’re delighted the Audit Commission has recognised our hard work and commitment to delivering excellent services and awarded us two stars.

He concluded: ‘We can now confidently tell p