Audit Commission picks start-up for campaign

Local government watch­-dog the Audit Commission has enlisted a start-up agency to help communicate its new ratings system.

How Now Communications will provide strategic counsel on the commission’s Comprehensive Area Ass­essments (CAA).

When they are intro-duced in 2009, CAAs willreplace Comprehensive Performance Assessments.

How Now was founded by ex-Hammersmith & Fulham Council head of comms Mike Browne last year (PRWeek, 24 Nov­ember 2006).

Browne – who reports to commission MD of comms and public reporting Jenny Grey – clinched the business after going head-to-head with an unnamed agency. Informal pitches were held before and after Christmas.

Browne’s brief includes promoting to stakeholders the commiss­ion’s consultation programme on CAA, which will launch in the spring. The groups affected include councils, emergency services, strategic partnerships, housing associations and NHS trusts.

How Now will also advise on how CAA results should be communicated.

‘The CAA looks at an area rather than specific bodies. It is a less onerous scheme, potentially reducing the amount of regulation. The existing rolling programme of inspections will be mostly replaced by an annual risk assessment,’ said Browne.

Currently, local services are measured in terms of their accessibility and relevance to users, as well as the service provider’s structure and processes.

Browne added that How Now will dedicate most of its resources to the project until at least the summer.

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