The City of Helsinki’s Audit Committee: Services for families with children should be developed holistically

Helsinki’s Audit Committee has made many recommendations in its 2023 assessment report. The Audit Committee is a body subordinate to the City Council tasked with assessing whether the objectives set by the Council have been achieved.
The City Council will discuss the assessment report at its meeting on 19 June 2024.
The City Council will discuss the assessment report at its meeting on 19 June 2024.

The Audit Committee recommends better defining the division of labour in service needs assessments in social guidance for families with children and securing staff availability and customer access to services that meet their service needs. 

Social guidance for families with children is early, low-threshold support for families. Access to the service has been improved and the service expanded. However, queues have increased as clients in need of more intensive services are referred to this service. In addition, congestion and staff shortages in other services undermine access to various services. Different services perform work that partly overlaps.

Winter maintenance of pedestrian and cycle paths should be considered in land use planning

The Audit Committee considers that already taking winter maintenance into account in land-use planning would allow for more effective snow management in the winter maintenance of pedestrian and cycle paths. The quality of winter maintenance could also be improved by increasing the incentives for contractors to adhere to their contracts.

Winter maintenance is carried out in accordance with the product cards and work instructions prepared by the city, but the practical work is hindered by rapidly changing weather conditions, extreme weather phenomena, material shortages and equipment breakdowns. In snowy years, the problem is the lack of suitable space for piling snow. There has not yet been time to prioritise winter maintenance for pedestrian traffic. Although the city has increased the winter maintenance of cycle paths, the proportion of people satisfied with winter cycling has not increased. 

Libraries gain appeal, but cooperation with educational institutions needs developing

The Audit Committee also provided recommendations for libraries. The Audit Committee considers that the city should continue to develop cooperation between libraries and secondary schools in the future. It should also promote measures that will increase the number of library visits by secondary school students.

Libraries have taken numerous measures to increase reading and literacy. The city has increased the attractiveness of libraries, which is reflected in the increased number of visits. At the same time, the regional network of local libraries around Helsinki is secured. 

Port of Helsinki’s carbon neutrality goal progressing, but work remains 

The Audit Committee recommends amending the Carbon Neutral Port Action Plan to take into account methane and other greenhouse gases in addition to carbon dioxide. Emissions from shipping account for the majority of the Port of Helsinki’s emissions, 80% in total. These emissions will be reduced by a quarter by 2030.

Emissions from heavy goods vehicles and port machinery have increased, contrary to the targets. They account for a total of 18 per cent of the Port’s emissions. By contrast, the Port’s own emissions appear to be on track to become carbon neutral as early as 2025. However, the Port’s own emissions only account for a small share of the total emissions sources, only two per cent.

Council to discuss assessment report on 19 June

The City Council will discuss the assessment report at its meeting on 19 June 2024. In the same context, they will discuss the statements of the City Board and the divisional committees on the assessment report’s findings.

You can explore the topics covered by the Audit Committee in its 2023 assessment report at: leads to external service).