The Planning Inspectorate (PINS) last report, which was published in June 2016, revealed that the agency had missed a considerable number of its casework targets over the previous year. The review was especially concerning as the internal review for 2015 had also raised concerns over casework performance, and branded it a "governance failure".
Sarah Richards, chief executive of PINS, commented that the agency is making headway in improving its performance when dealing with "volume casework", covering written representations and householder appeals, which account for a considerable percentage of their work.
Planning magazine found Sarah’s claims to be true as they published figures which show that the proportion of appeals determined by the written representations method within 14 weeks rose from 41.6 per cent in 2015/16 to 68.7 per cent in 2016/17, while the proportion of householder appeals decided within eight weeks rose from 46.9 per cent to 59.8 per cent over the same period.
That being said, the numbers also revealed that over the same timeframe, the more complex appeals (those requiring hearings and some types of inquiry) were taking longer to complete. However, PINS do argue that the process time for the more complex appeals has been reduced in recent months.
In a recent interview, Richards said that a key priority, highlighted in their latest strategic plan, is for the agency to place a greater focus on the customer. However she did outline that this could mean setting new performance targets which place a closer focus on the experience of appellants. This would be aided by technology that would allow users to track where their appeal is in the system. Yet Richards did conclude by outlining that this is a long term plan due to the costs and lack of resource for implementation, but certainly something her agency will be revisiting.