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Government Commissioners publish first findings into Liverpool City Council

The Commissioners appointed to Liverpool City Council, following the Best Value Inspection, have published their first report, giving initial observations about the leadership team and their work.

The Commissioners team – led by Mike Cunningham – with colleagues Joanna Killian, Neil Gibson and Deborah McLaughlin have concluded that the council is “at the beginning of a long improvement journey and has a great deal to do in the next three years”.

The Commissioners – who started work on June 10 2021 – have also observed that the political and managerial leadership of Liverpool “clearly desire change at pace”.

This first report has been published after being submitted to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and covers the first three months of the inspection.

The Commissioners say despite evidence of “change”, there is a “somewhat frenetic rather than purposeful and targeted approach” and a “lack of prioritisation and planning”.

The Commissioners have also noted that there is “a need to build the competency, capacity, efficiency and effectiveness of core corporate and support services including Governance, Finance, Legal and IT”.

Lead Inspector Mike Cunningham said:

“There are many hard working, committed staff within Liverpool City Council and we have observed a clear desire to improve across the Council

“Indeed, nobody we have met during our time here so far has said the council does not need to improve.

“The entire organisation needs to focus on getting its core work right and build from there.

“The entire organisation needs to focus on getting its core work right and build from there.

“In particular, we have identified that best value has not been achieved in a number of existing property transactions, and the regeneration and property management teams need to develop commercial awareness.

“In Highways, it will take at least another 12-18 months to put improvements in place, and five years to become a top performer.

“The council needs to invest in additional capacity and capability and become a learning organisation that embraces support, development and challenge.

“A great deal of work is under way, and improvements are already being made, but there is no doubt that this is going to be a long road.”

Priorities for the organisation over the next six months include:

  • Developing a Strategic Improvement Plan
  • Addressing capacity and capability gaps in corporate functions
  • Developing a finance improvement plan and interim medium term financial strategy
  • Producing and reforming the Constitution, including scrutiny
  • Strengthening leadership capacity

The full report can be read here:

The next report will be issued in six months, and will provide findings about wider council services.