§ Jacqui Smith
In 1998, my Department provided good practice guidance to LEAs which were not producing at least 60 per cent. of their draft statements within 18 weeks. We have followed this up by asking for evidence of improved performance, and we are currently considering what action to take in relation to continuing poor performers as identified in the Audit Commission's performance indicators for 1998–99, the most recent available. We will continue to keep LEA performance in this area under review. It is encouraging to note that the Audit Commission's figures show a continuing improvement, with English councils overall preparing 67 per cent. of draft statements within 18 weeks in 1998–99, compared to 54 per cent. in 1997–98 and 48 per cent. in 1996–97.