Corporate peer challenges

Peer challenge is a core element of our sector-led improvement offer to local authorities. A fully funded Corporate Peer Challenge is available to all council. It is expected that all councils complete a Corporate Peer challenge at least every five years.

There are some design principles that it is important to understand as these lie at the very heart of our offer:

Peer challenge is not an inspection, it is a tool for improvement and it works. Our commitment to the approach is demonstrated by the high levels of take-up, with 71 councils having engaged in Corporate Peer Challenge, Finance Peer Review, or a Corporate Peer Challenge Follow Up Visit during 2018/19 - which equates to nearly a fifth of the sector. 

Peer challenge is carried out to your specification aimed at improving, not judging, your council.

  • Peer challenge should be undertaken at a time which most suits a council and will focus on what is of most importance to a council.
  • A scoping meeting at the outset involving a visit by LGA representatives will be an essential feature. The council’s specific needs, the areas it wants to focus on, the makeup of the team and the results it wants to achieve will be discussed and agreed.
  • Peer Challenge will include a strong focus on priority setting, leadership, governance, corporate capacity and financial management. These will form the core component of all corporate peer challenges.
  • The process will be proportionate and minimise the burden by focusing on making appropriate preparations and maximising the benefits through the use of technology, data and intelligence.
  • The LGA will work with the council to source a diverse peer team
  • There is an expectation that all councils having a corporate peer challenge will commit to publishing the feedback report and developing and publishing an action plan
  • Six months after the CPC, the LGA will organise a ‘Check-In’ to assess progress and capture case studies on the impact of the CPC.

The corporate peer challenge will be pitched at a strategic organisational level and we would not expect them to include in-depth service reviews since this would duplicate other offers we provide. There is significant flexibility to enable the peer challenge to focus on those local priorities, outcomes and ambitions which are important locally.

A corporate peer challenge will focus on the following core components in discussion with the council:

  • Local priorities and outcomes
  • Organisational and place leadership
  • Governance and culture
  • Financial planning and management
  • Capacity for improvement

If you want to discuss a peer challenge in your council then please contact your regional LGA principal adviser. 

"A very heartfelt thanks for a super helpful Peer Challenge. I really am grateful for the strength of the Peer Team, the professionalism of the process and the sheer warmth and good will we got from the team. Thank you for the organisation on the ground, it went really smoothly. This is an absolute ringing endorsement of the peer challenge approach from me and just what we needed to move us forward." 
John Dimmer, Head of Policy, Strategy and Partnerships London Borough of Merton