Grant Thornton found that the authority has made a “significant and rapid improvement journey” over the last couple of years.
It also concluded that the council’s prospects for continuing to improve in the future are good.
The council’s chief executive, Sally Loudon, said that the auditor’s comment that prospects for future improvement in the authority were good was, for her, the most pleasing aspect of the report.
“I’m delighted that we have received such a positive progress report, and I’d like to put on record my thanks to staff and elected members who have worked so hard to ensure this happens,” she added.
“I am particularly pleased that the external auditor has concluded not only that we’ve made significant improvements, but also that we in a good position to continue our progress in the future. That’s an important vote of confidence in us as we deal with the various challenges we are facing.”
The report also highlighted that:
The key building blocks for future improvement are now being embedded
The new management team is showing the necessary leadership, enthusiasm and commitment to embed a performance culture
Work is underway to deliver outcome-based performance measures and simplify and strengthen links to the corporate plan and Single Outcome Agreement
The budget consultation approach has been a positive development
The council understands and is responding to priorities at a local level, with local community planning and the Forward Together programme representing a key strength
The report also drew attention to the council’s service review programme process, which it states has been improved to ensure the findings are robust and lead to quantifiable savings.
“This is a key step to respond to the financial position, and we have noted the improved approach to identifying efficiency savings through a drive to look for radical alternative service delivery models,” Grant Thornton states.
Argyll and Bute Council leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “This report demonstrates how robust the council has become in terms of managing the issues it has to deal with.
“This has taken a lot of planning and hard work, and I am grateful to all those who have contributed, in whatever way, to our improvement.
“We have clearly taken major strides over the last couple of years, but there remain a significant number of challenges, not least the current financial climate.
“I look forward to continuing to face these challenges head on, in partnership with our residents and communities, safe in the knowledge that we are tackling them in a responsible and sustainable way.”