Annual Performance Improvement Report - Belfast City Council 2023-24

1.            Councils have statutory responsibility to improve their functions.  These responsibilities are collectively referred to as Performance Improvement. As Local Government Auditor, I am required to perform an improvement audit and assessment each year and summarise the findings of work I have conducted during the year in this report.

2.            I am satisfied that the Council has discharged its statutory performance improvement reporting duties, and that it has acted in accordance with the legislation and guidance.  No statutory recommendations  or special inspections  were required at the Council this year.

3.            The Council’s improvement plan, published in September 2023, set out its improvement objectives.  My audit work considered both the 2023-24 improvement plan and the 2022-23 self-assessment report.

4.            I am also required to assess whether in my view the Council is likely to comply with Part 12 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 during 2023-24. I have concluded that the Council is unlikely to discharge its duties in respect of Part 12 of the Act during 2023-24 as it has not been able to demonstrate a track record of improvement.

5.            In response to this assessment, the Council has highlighted that its performance plan and assessment focus on a limited set of improvement objectives, some of which are outside the Council’s control. The Council has advised it was required to place greater emphasis on focusing the City’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis. The Council also noted the objectives and measures set within the performance plan do not fully capture the scale and scope of the work that the Council undertook during 2022-23, or of the quantifiable improvements in performance that the Council considers it made across this wider programme of activities.

6.            In my report to the Council, I did not outline any proposals for improvement. I raise matters such as these when I believe it will assist the Council to meet its performance improvement responsibilities or help to ensure that the work it does is transparent and meaningful to citizens. I do however note that there appears to be little progress on implementing the proposal for improvement made last year and I expect the Council will work towards full implementation of this in the next year.


7.            Legislation requires the comparison of performance improvement information amongst councils so far as is reasonably practicable. As with other councils, limited progress has been made on this matter. Progress on this issue would allow a broader range of functions to be compared to support councils with their General Duty to Improve in accordance with the legislation. I acknowledge that delays to this process were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.



8.            You should be able to access more specific and detailed information in relation to the work that your Council is undertaking to meet its improvement responsibilities on its website, or you can contact it directly.




Colette Kane 

Local Government Auditor            


29 March 2024