About peer challenges

Peer Challenge is a core element of our sector-led improvement offer to local authorities.


The approach is set out in ‘Sector-led improvement in local government’ (June 2012) and which has received high levels of support from councils who overwhelmingly endorse the key principles on which it is based:

  • councils are responsible for their own performance
  • stronger local accountability leads to further improvement
  • councils have a sense of collective responsibility for performance in the sector as a whole
  • the role of the Local Government Association (LGA) is to help councils by providing the necessary support.

The offer of support set out in ‘Sector-led improvement in local government’ is a core part of the LGA’s offer to councils and includes a range of free of charge/subsidised tools and support for councils.

You can read more about sector-led improvement, the approach and our offer in our improvement offer section.

A major part of the support is the offer to each council and fire and rescue service to have a corporate peer challenge (at no charge) at a time of its choosing.

Further details about other similar offers are set out in our peer challenges we offer section.

Peer challenges are managed and delivered by the sector for the sector. They are improvement focused; the scope will be agreed with the council and tailored to reflect their local needs and specific requirements.

The peer team will involve peers from across the sector and beyond. Their ambition is to help your council respond to its local priorities and issues in its own way to greatest effect.

There are some design principles that it is important to understand:

  • Peer challenge is not an inspection, it is a tool for improvement. 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 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 should include some focus on leadership, governance, corporate capacity and financial resilience. These will form a core component of all corporate peer challenges.
  • The process should be proportionate – minimising the burden (rather than making unnecessary demands that absorb capacity and divert attention) focusing on making appropriate preparation and maximising the benefits.