The Audit Commission was politically compromised and overly bureaucratic. There is, however, value in allowing councillors and ordinary citizens to compare their council with relevant peers. We should create and administer an independent standard of council’s performance. This has real value. To do this we need to get the assessment criteria right, so what should they be?
The American Legislative Exchange Council provides a useful example of how a privately operated standard currently operates in the United States. They publish Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer state economic competitiveness index. Our councils have considerably less powers than an American state. Some of the ALEC criteria contained below are not appropriate for a UK standard. Their criteria include:
- the top marginal personal income tax and corporate income tax rate personal income tax progressivity (the change in tax liability per $1,000 of income)
- property tax burden, sales tax burden, estate/inheritance tax levy, remaining tax burden, recently legislated tax changes, number of tax or expenditure limits imposed (0=least/worst, 3=most/best)
- debt service as a share of tax revenue, public employees per 10,000 of population, state liability system survey (tort litigation treatment)
- state minimum wage level, average workers compensation costs (per $100 of pay roll), right to work state (option to join or support a union)?
- Other featured indicators include the level of domestic migration into the state, employment growth and personal income per capita.