Moray Council must urgently improve services, says Accounts Commission
Services in Moray Council are continuing to deteriorate, in particular within education, according to a new report from the Accounts Commission.
The watchdog found that there has been a significant decline in services since a previous report by the Commission in 2015.
The Commission said a recent renewed focus to drive forward strategic change must be maintained, adding that it recognises these important recent steps, including putting in place ways to review performance and, significantly, a strategy to manage school buildings.
In a report published today, the Commission is clear that committed and decisive leadership will be needed to make the required changes.
This means both councillors and officers need to work together, along with communities, to make difficult decisions that will improve services across the area for local people. This includes tackling the relatively low educational attainment delivered within a schools’ estate in the worst condition in Scotland.
Elma Murray, interim chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “It is deeply worrying that services for local people have declined significantly over the last five years. On the basis of past performance there is limited assurance and confidence that the council can make the significant depth of improvement needed.
“The Accounts Commission has instructed auditors to follow up on today’s report, with a further assessment of the council’s position within 18 months. Councillors and officers must build on recent steps to work collaboratively to address poor educational attainment, ensure its finances are sustainable in the longer term and better understand how its services are performing.”
A spokesperson for Moray Council said: “Whilst it makes difficult reading, the council welcomes the report and commission findings, which acknowledge the good work already underway in the areas highlighted by inspectors. The report and findings provide a sharpened focus on the challenges we face, and officers have begun work on a plan to address these over the next 18 months.
“Delivering the committed and decisive leadership called for by the Accounts Commission requires acceptance of change in the way the council works, at both officer and councillor level. Vital to this will be greater collaboration to pave the way for transformation at strategic level in both our school estate and the delivery of our services to the Moray community.
“Our continuing experience dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the need for strong partnership working and collaboration into sharp relief and the council will do all in its power to ensure that lessons will be learned from this. To deliver transformation, over £3m has been earmarked from council reserves to address issues highlighted in the report - including pace and capacity. We are confident this will ensure that Moray is best equipped for the challenges ahead.”