Despite overall improvement in local authority services for people with special needs, some councils are falling behind in assessing children, an Audit Commission report says.

Two thirds of English councils report faster delivery of equipment to help people remain at home, and 92 per cent have made statutory inspections of adult residential homes.

Nights of respite care provided or funded by local authorities increased between 1995 and 1998, but London councils provide 'significantly less' than others.

Local Authority Performance Indicators: services for people with special needs. Audit Commission Publications. Freephone 0800-502030.