City of Edinburgh Council ‘can do more’ to fulfil potential and further improve citizens’ lives

Over the last four years many services provided by the City of Edinburgh Council have improved, its finances have been well-managed and ambitious strategies to improve the lives of local people and the economy have been agreed.

City of Edinburgh Council 'can do more' to fulfil potential and further improve citizens' lives

However, in a report published today, the Accounts Commission said that since 2016 there has been mixed progress at a strategic level, across community engagement and continuous improvement.

The council must now put in place a long-term financial strategy and a more effective workforce plan. Both are essential for the council to address the additional pressures the impact of COVID-19 has placed on the council, and support how it will fund and manage its vision for the future. Strong leadership and clear, collaborative working with local partners are vital to realise these ambitions.

Across Scotland, COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities, an issue of significant concern to the Accounts Commission. Whilst Edinburgh is, overall, a prosperous city, the Commission urge the council to continue to lead and progress its commitment to reducing poverty and inequality across the city. The council should also do more to embed community empowerment throughout the council’s culture, enabling local people to improve public services and their communities.

Elma Murray, interim chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council can do more to maximise its potential to improve the city and the lives of local people. Whilst the ambition of the council and its partners is impressive, the detail of how it will deliver, monitor and report on its key strategic goals must be in one accessible and coherent plan. It is the responsibility of all local councillors, working together, to ensure the city and its services continue to improve.

“It is important for the council to focus on continuous improvement and the creation of long-term financial and workforce plans. I expect the council to act swiftly on our report. Doing so will support the council’s ambitions to improve the lives of its residents.”

Council leader Adam McVey and depute leader Cammy Day have promised to review and act on the findings of the report.

Mr McVey said: “We’re grateful to the Controller of Audit for his latest report and constructive feedback. The assessment highlights our ongoing delivery for people in our capital and demonstrates the improving picture of our core services. Our ambitious strategies to put people at the heart of how we design public space, our proven ability to take difficult decisions like taking trams to Newhaven, and extensive consultations with residents and stakeholders to put communities at the heart of our decision-making are all cited as strengths.

“Of course, we’re always striving to improve wherever we can so that we deliver the best possible services to the people of Edinburgh. We’ll carefully review the full report and work to address areas in need of our attention going forward.”

Mr Day added: “The council delivers more than 700 services for Scotland’s capital, from care for the most vulnerable in our communities and maintaining several hundred miles of roads and pavements to educating our children and putting roofs over people’s heads, and much more besides.

“These are especially testing times for all local authorities given the ongoing global pandemic and straitened public finances so it’s vital we are equipped with as much information as possible when making decisions affecting our communities. Our task now is to review the Commission’s report in full with elected members before submitting our detailed response setting out how we plan to use the findings in the best interests of the whole city.”

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