A 'culture change' is needed to make sure decisions taken by council leaders are properly scrutinised, MPs have warned.
The Communities and Local Government Committee (CLGC) says in extreme cases the lack of independent overview has contributed to severe service failures.
It says scrutiny is often 'marginalised', leading to a lack of constructive challenge to improve services for residents.
The parliamentary committee says overview and scrutiny committees should report to an authority’s full council meeting rather than to the executive, mirroring the relationship between select committees and Parliament.
It also calls for measures to strengthen the independence of overview and scrutiny committees at combined authorities, Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) and arm’s-length bodies.
The committee's chair Clive Betts said: 'We are calling on the Government to strengthen guidance to make overview and scrutiny committees truly independent of those they are charged with holding to account and to make sure the process is properly funded and respected.
'Only by rebalancing the system and ensuring scrutiny is held in high esteem will we see better decisions and the outcomes that residents who pay for council services deserve.'