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Barnet Council rejects claims of being sixth worst local authority, calling data “misleading”

Barnet Council has rejected research suggesting it’s the sixth worst local authority in the country, calling the data “misleading” and not presenting a “complete picture”.

The Office for Local Government (Oflog) published data ranking all 317 of England’s councils. Barnet came 312th, while neighbouring borough Haringey came 307th and Enfield 303rd.

The results, which are available in The Times, also include a ranking of five council services, which informed each council’s overall rating.

These services were finance, waste, roads, social care and planning in which Barnet respectively came 274th, 301st, 77th, 301st and 254th. However, Barnet has criticised Oflog’s methodology, calling it “extremely narrow and misleading”.

A council spokesperson said: “Along with the rest of local government, we think Oflog’s limited data cited in The Times report is extremely misleading.

“Oflog’s website itself warns users that data on its own does not present a complete picture and it should be used to generate questions and not reach judgements.

“The data is not reflective of the performance of our services as a whole and is not consistent with feedback we get from residents. The data used is also not the most recent, with most of it dating from 2021/22.”

The Times article stated that not all local authorities provided all five services, in which case they were allocated an “average score”. Of the top 30 councils only one provided all five services, City of London, which was ranked 25th.

Although the figure for provision of all five services increases, of the top 150 councils only a minority provide all five.

The article said Oflog’s aim was to provide “authoritative and accessible” performance data to “support improvement in local government”.

However Barnet Council questioned the results, adding the London Government Association had written to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) expressing concerns and the role Oflog had played in terms of helping councils.

In terms of its planning services, according to DLUHC Barnet determined 100% of major applications in time, and in terms of all planning applications had the second highest number of decisions made in London.

Barnet Council also sets its collection targets for finance every four years, adding to its belief the in-year representation from Oflog didn’t present a “complete picture”.

The council spokesperson added: “We regularly review the performance of services for our residents to ensure that they remain of a high quality, and we take action where improvements need to be made.

“Nearly four in five (79%) of our residents think the council is doing a good job – up since 2020 (72%), while 65% of residents are satisfied with how Barnet Council runs things – higher than the London and national average.”

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