Thomas Bridge 10 February 2015

Poll reveals questions over effectiveness of council scrutiny

Poll reveals questions over effectiveness of council scrutiny image

Scrutiny of council decisions varies 'widely' across the country while opinion is 'divided' on local effectiveness, research suggests.

A study by Grant Thornton UK LLP found that while the average number of scrutiny committee meetings was 17, some local authorities only had one while another had as many as 66.

The All Aboard report found that while 90% of senior council officers, town halls, fire and rescue authorities and police bodies felt their organisation encouraged well managed risk taking and innovation, 43% of respondents thought scrutiny committees were failing to sufficiently challenge local authority practices.

While scrutiny committees were introduced 15 years ago to examine town hall decisions, almost one in five councils are thought to have returned - or were considering reverting to - a traditional committee structure.

Partner and head of local government at Grant Thornton UK LLP, Paul Dossett, said this 'could turn out to be a backwards step for effective scrutiny' as scrutiny committees 'can offer a valuable "check" to the executive'.

'Potentially, they can also offer a fresh perspective by taking both a long-term view of strategic issues and "deep dives" into vital areas of council operations. We know that some councils are doing this with great success so it's important that those who are struggling receive support to improve their processes so that they are not tempted to fall back in to outdated methods of scrutiny,' he added.

Some 84% of respondents said wider challenges facing councils meant their organisations were using or considering alternative delivery methods.

'Maintaining strong scrutiny over how local monies are spent is a principal tenet of good governance, providing assurance to council members and the wider public. Challenging why things are done and scrutinising processes and decisions encourages the development and introduction of more efficient and effective ideas,' Dossett added.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Mental Health Co-ordinator x2 - D-BIT Emotional Wellbeing Team

Essex County Council
£38400 - £46475 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Possesses an accredited degree or diploma level, professional qualification in at least one of the following; youth and community, social work, mental health nursing, occupational therapy, special educational needs and teaching, or probation. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Practitioner – Looked After Children & Permanence

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 inclusive of benefit
If this sounds exciting and reassuring, we want you to get in touch with us. Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Practitioner – Family Support & Child Protection

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 inc benefits
Do you think you have what it takes to join our team of excellent and dedicated social work professionals? Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Social Worker- Children in Care

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Please note this role is based in Colchester and is open to Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSWs). The starting salary for NQSW is £27,775 per annum England, Essex, Colchester
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Workers – Looked after Children and Permanence

London Borough of Bexley
£32,517 - £41,934 (inclusive of Choices Flexible Benefits of £2,370 pa)
If this sounds exciting and reassuring, we want you to get in touch with us. Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue