Local Government Performance Officer/Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Performance officers/managers work for local authorities to make sure the best practices are used. They also monitor quality, policies and initiatives. Their aim is to ensure that their authority improves its services on a continuous basis. Performance officer/manager job titles vary among local authorities. They may have titles such as best value officer/manager or scrutiny officer.

Their work is based on the principle of 'best value'. 'Best value' was introduced into local government at the end of the 1990's. It originally related to finding ways of improving services throughout all local authority departments. This included considering issues of economy, efficiency, equality and the environment. Also important was the need for local authorities to consult service users, local residents and the business community.

The principles of 'best value' remain but have developed differently in each county. In England, councils are no longer measured against 'best value performance indicators'. Instead they must report performance against nearly two-hundred 'national indicators'.

Performance officers/managers may have to:

  • Interpret legislation from central government.
  • Develop and help to implement the authority's approach to performance including setting up structures and publishing a performance plan.
  • Support the teams carrying out performance reviews of council services.
  • Collect information on performance across council departments.
  • Compare the delivery of services by the local authority with delivery in other authorities and organisations, and assess its competitiveness.
  • Question whether the local authority is the best body to deliver each service or whether it should contract out the service.
  • Consult with service users, local residents and the business community.
  • Attend meetings with managers, workers and elected councillors and full meetings of the council if necessary.
  • Prepare and present reports to meetings.
  • Negotiate with external agencies and elected members of different political parties on behalf of the council.
  • Present new policies to council workers explaining their benefits and the changes in working practice they will bring.
  • Support and monitor the implementation of new policies by senior strategic management.

Performance officers/managers normally work 37 hours a week, 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. They may need to attend meetings or functions outside their normal office hours. There may be opportunities for flexible working, part-time work and job share.

Performance officers/managers are usually based in an office within the local authority headquarters. Most of the time is spent working at a computer or in meetings. There might be some travelling to attend meetings away from their office.

Starting salaries for performance officers/managers may be around £26,000 a year. With experience this may rise to around £34,000 a year.

A manager in a senior post may earn up to around £50,000 a year.

Those living in and around London are paid additional allowances.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Local government is one of the largest employers in the UK, employing over two million people in more than 600 occupational areas.

Many local authorities employ performance officers/managers. Although posts may have similar titles, jobs vary between local authorities in terms of job content and responsibilities. The number of performance officers has remained stable for the past few years.

Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, on local authority websites, on the local government recruitment website at www.lgjobs.com, and on information services sites such as www.localgov.co.uk and www.publictechnology.net.

Education and Training

There are no specific entry requirements for this job. In practice, though, most performance officers have a degree, or an equivalent qualification. No specific degree subject is required but subjects such as business, economics and public administration are useful.

Entry to a degree is usually with at least two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C). Other qualifications may be accepted, either on their own or in combination with A levels. They include relevant AS levels, applied A levels, Diplomas, BTEC National and BTEC Higher Nationals, and the International Baccalaureate.

Applicants will be required to have knowledge and understanding of local government structures and policies, as well as experience and understanding of project management.

Generally this is not an entry-level role, as previous relevant experience is required.

The National Graduate Development Programme for local government recruits over 80 graduates a year in England and Wales. Applicants should ideally have at least an upper second class degree, and must also be eligible to work in the UK without a permit. Trainees are recruited at a national level and then employed by a local authority on a two-year fixed-term contract. They work towards a postgraduate diploma in local government management. After the programme some progress into policy areas of local government, including performance management.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Performance officers/managers receive induction training from their employers. This includes learning about the policies of the authority for which they work and the requirements of central government.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A performance officer/manager should:

  • Have excellent communication skills, including speaking and writing.
  • Be good at public speaking.
  • Be good with figures.
  • Have good computer skills.
  • Have knowledge and understanding of local government structures and policies.
  • Be persuasive.
  • Have good negotiation skills.
  • Be competent at carrying out research.
  • Have good analytical skills.
  • Be able to come up with new ideas.
  • Be able to work with a wide range of people.
  • Have good judgement.
  • Be decisive.

Your Long Term Prospects

Performance officers/managers may progress to:

  • A higher level post within the local authority that employs them.
  • A post in another local authority, which may require moving.
  • A job in the private sector, particularly one requiring decision-making skills or strategic planning.

Get Further Information

Institute of Customer Service (ICS),
2 Castle Court, St Peter's Street,
Colchester, Essex CO1 1EW
Tel: 01206 571716
Website: www.instituteofcustomerservice.com

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