Local Authority Audit Rating Scheme
Wednesday 5 October 2011
The Food Standards Agency in Wales is consulting on its proposals to carry out a rolling three-year programme of audits of food and animal feed law enforcement functions of Welsh local authorities.
All comments and views should be sent to:
Enforcement Strategy, Audit and Incidents
Food Standards Agency in Wales
11th Floor, South Gate House
Tel: 02920 678902
Fax: 02920 678918
Responses are requested by: 10 January 2012
Who will this consultation be of most interest to?
Consumers, local authorities and the food industry in Wales. This proposal relates to the rating of local authorities in Wales only.
What is the subject of this consultation?
The award of a banded 'rating' to local authority food law enforcement services after audit by the FSA. The rating will be based on 3 criteria – Systems; Performance and Outcome. The result will be a four tier rating: A for very good overall performance, B for broadly sound performance, C where there are some failures to meet standards noted and D for significant failures to meet standards.
What is the purpose of this consultation?
To inform stakeholders of the intention of the Food Standards Agency to commence a rolling three-year programme of audits of food and animal feed law enforcement functions of Welsh local authorities. To obtain stakeholder views on proposals to introduce a system of ratings for those local authorities, based on an assessment of their systems, performance and outcomes achieved. To seek views on whether and how such a rating scheme might recognise elements of good practice that exceed the standard set in the framework agreement between the Food Standards Agency and local authorities.
The Food Standards Agency intends to introduce, from April 2012, a rolling three-year programme of audits of the food and animal feed law enforcement functions undertaken by local authorities in Wales. We propose that, in order to increase transparency and accessibility of audit findings, each local authority service receives a grade following the audit. The grade will reflect the findings of the audit process in relation to each local authority's systems, its performance and the outcomes achieved.
The assessment of a local authority's systems will be based on the extent to which each of 28 requirements of 'The Framework Agreement on Official Feed and Food Controls by Local Authorities, Chapter 2: The Standard' (The Standard) are met. For each of these requirements a score of zero, two or three points will be awarded, with zero representing poor systems and three representing systems that meet 'The Standard'. The score awarded for systems will therefore range from 0 to 84. Annex B provides a detailed description of systems that would attract each level of score for each of the requirements.
The assessment of a local authority's performance will similarly be based on the extent to which relevant requirements of 'The Standard' are met. Scores of zero, two or three will be awarded for each of 27 requirements in each of three areas of service delivery – food hygiene, food standards and animal feed. The score awarded for performance will therefore range from 0 to 243. Annex C provides a detailed description of performance that would attract each level of score for each requirement. The assessments of systems and performance will be informed by 'reality checks' and accompanied inspections.
The Welsh National Performance Indicators and National Strategic Indicators include three output measures relevant to local authority food law enforcement – food business compliance (PPN/009); risk rating of new establishments (PPN/008); and inspections of high risk premises (PPN/001). The outcomes achieved by a local authority against each of these three indicators will be assessed and a score of 0, 25 or 50 will be given for each. Annex D provides a detailed description of outcomes that would attract each level of score.
Overall, each local authority food and animal feed law enforcement service will receive a score between 0 and 477. The maximum score for systems is 18% of the overall maximum score, that for performance is 51% and that for outcomes it is 31%. It is anticipated that the scoring mechanism will be scrutinised and may be refined following a series of pilot audits.
Banding of Grades
The total score will determine what overall rating is awarded, from A to D. The range of total scores that would lead to each of these four ratings will be determined following pilot audits.
We seek views on whether the rating scheme should provide recognition for a service that displays significant aspects of good practice, which exceed that set out in The Standard. The Welsh Heads of Environmental Health Group has published best practice standards that, for a range of aspects of environmental health services, its view of the characteristics of a minimum standard of good practice and of best practice standards. As yet, there are no equivalent documents for food standards or feed work.
We propose a preferred approach of a four band rating scheme as described.
- rating of local authority food and animal feed law enforcement services focuses on three broad aspects – systems, performance and outcome/strategic indicator measures
- the relative weightings of each of these three aspects are as described above – 18% of the maximum total score relates to systems, 51% to performance and 31% to outcomes/strategic indicators
- scores are totalled and banded into 4 tiers, A to D, with band boundaries to be determined following pilot audits
- ratings are published, together with a breakdown of the scores awarded and an audit report
The scheme has been discussed in principle with a small group of local authority representatives prior to consultation and we will shortly be offering meetings/presentations to industry, consumers and local authority officers. Following the consultation exercise the scheme will be presented to the FSA Board and, if adopted, will be made available to interested parties and published on our website prior to implementation.
Questions asked in this consultation:
- Do you agree that the principles underpinning key issues – what the rating is based on, the number of tiers of ratings and their descriptors – are reasonable?
- Are the criteria for determining scores suitable?
- Should meeting the requirements of The Standard be sufficient for the best possible markings? Or should additional points be available for good practice over and above the minimum required by 'The Standard'?
- If additional points were awarded, what scale of recognition is appropriate?
- The Framework Agreement on Official Feed and Food Controls by Local Authorities, Chapter 2: The Standard (The Standard)
Responses are required by close Tuesday 10 January 2012. Please state in your response whether you are responding as a private individual or on behalf of an organisation/company (including details of any stakeholders your organisation represents).
This consultation has been prepared in accordance with the HM Government Code of Practice on Consultation, which states that a consultation must follow better regulation best practice, including carrying out an Impact Assessment (Regulatory Impact Assessment in Scotland). The assessment is included in the consultation documents.
We are interested in what you thought of this consultation and would therefore welcome your general feedback on both the consultation package and overall consultation process. If you would like to assist us to improve the quality of future consultations, please feel free to share your thoughts with us by using the consultation feedback questionnaire.
Publication of personal data and confidentiality of responses
In accordance with the FSA principle of openness our Information Centre at Aviation House will hold a copy of the completed consultation. The FSA will publish a summary of responses, which may include personal data, such as your full name. Disclosure of any other personal data would be made only upon request for the full consultation responses. If you do not want this information to be released, please complete and return the Publication of Personal Data Form. Return of this form does not mean that we will treat your response to the consultation as confidential, just your personal data.
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Publication of response summary
Within three months of a consultation ending we aim to publish a summary of responses received and provide a link to it from this page.
If, after three months, the summary is still not showing, please contact the person who was responsible for the original consultation. Alternatively, you can contact the FSA Consultation Co-ordinator by email: email@example.com