What is Scrutiny
Scrutiny is an essential part of ensuring that local government remains transparent, accountable, and open, resulting in improved public policies and services.
The principal power of a scrutiny committee is to influence the policies and decisions made by the council and other organisations involved in delivering public services. The scrutiny committee gathers evidence on issues affecting local people and makes recommendations based on its findings.
For scrutiny to be effective it needs to be seen as a ‘supportive friend’ and it is important to identify where decisions could be improved and how to prevent mistakes being made or repeated.
It is important to note that Scrutiny Committees make recommendations rather than decisions.
There are four scrutiny committees:
- Corporate Scrutiny Committee
- Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Children’s Services, Education and Skills
- Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Neighbourhoods and Regeneration
- Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Health and Social Care
Have your say
Members of the public are actively encouraged to attend meetings, and to become involved in scrutiny investigations.
The scrutiny committees would welcome input into their workplans from members of the public.
If you would like to suggest an item for enquiry, comment on ongoing or previous enquiries, or discuss a committee workplan please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of times and venues for meetings together with copies of agendas and future workplans are available online by visiting the Committees and Panels webpage.
Procedures at the scrutiny committees are governed by a number of rules. These rules are set out in Sections of the Council’s Constitution.
Occasionally confidential or exempt information has to be considered by a committee and so relevant business may then be dealt with in private session.
Find out more about Scrutiny
You can find out more about the role of Scrutiny on the following links:
What is Audit?
Whereas Scrutiny is concerned with the review of policy, its formulation and implementation. Audit operates to ensure that the governance and risk environment within the council is effective and that financial management is fit for purpose.
The role of the council’s Audit Committee is to look at the Council’s financial and non-financial performance, particularly where there is an increase in the Council's vulnerability to things going wrong. They also need to ensure that if things do go wrong, there are arrangements in place to manage these.
The Audit Committee’s terms of reference can be found in the Council’s Constitution, and include the following:
- reviewing summary internal audit reports and the main issues arising, and seeking assurance that action has been taken where necessary
- considering the reports of external audit and inspection agencies
- ensuring that there are effective relationships between external and internal audit, inspection agencies and other relevant bodies, and that the value of the audit process is actively promoted
- approving the Council’s accounts
Both functions require distinct support and should be able to operate effectively and independently. But because the functions relate to similar areas, there will be matters of common interest where it makes sense to collaborate.
In order to maximise the effectiveness of both Audit and Scrutiny, the respective Chairs of each committee have established arrangements for closer working and information sharing to ensure that the work of the two committees is co-ordinated in order to maximise the effectiveness of each and avoid duplication wherever possible.