Despite the challenges, some local authorities are managing to outperform their peers, achieving better outcomes for less money. To measure this, we developed the IMPOWER INDEX, which helps top-tier local authorities understand their performance in a new way.
Other measurement systems are focused either on pure outcomes (which are interesting, but don’t help operationally, and are not linked to investment – for example an academic definition of wellbeing or happiness) or on efficiency (unit costs and spending) in isolation from performance.
Instead, the INDEX defines productivity as outcome value per pound spent. This enables us to understand which councils are spending their money most effectively and getting the best outcomes for citizens.
It measures performance against outcomes (per pound invested) through seven different lenses: children’s social care; children with high needs; older people; all age disability; health and social care interface; housing and homelessness; and waste and recycling. Each council is scored for productivity through each lens and is ranked accordingly.
We published our previous lists of the Top 10 most productive councils in 2017 and 2018, and it is still the case that different types of authority from different parts of the country can be among the best even if demographics are against them.
Since publishing the 2018 list we have further refined some of the outcomes measures for each of the lenses, taking into account dataset availability and discussions with the leadership teams of more than 40 councils.
Our list of datasets has grown from 30 to over 40, and we have also added a seventh lens. Given the merger between the unitary authorities of Bournemouth and Poole with the non-metropolitan district of Christchurch, our Top 10 is now drawn from England’s 149 top tier councils, excluding the City of London and the Isles of Scilly. As with previous years, all counties are treated as county unitaries through the aggregation of district-level outcome and budget data.