A governance report into local authorities by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found one in six councils do not have their whistleblowing policies easily available on their websites, and of the policies that the NAO could find – 24% were out-of-date.
The report, Local Authority Governance, published 15 January, acknowledged the challenges facing local authorities due to increased cuts and the report states, ‘Governance arrangements have to be robust in this challenging context or this creates a risk that authorities will not be able to deliver their objectives.’
Protect’s acting Chief Executive, Jon Cunningham said, “We work with many local authorities across the UK. Many come to see the benefit of our work and whistleblowing as a risk governance tool only after a particularly unsavoury scandal has hit the press. We would like to be working with more local authorities to prevent risk and problems and those negative headlines in the first place. Local authorities are accountable to the communities they serve, and it’s not good enough to be providing out of date information on whistleblowing or failing to be transparent with no whistleblowing information on council websites.”
He added, “We know local authorities are under unprecedented pressure with reduced budgets, but with these challenges, as the NAO report acknowledges, comes increased risks to services. Now more than ever, local authorities need to sit up and realise whistleblowing works and can keep services and the community it serves, safe.”