By Jane MartinPublic trust in government has diminished and the resulting accountability gap has allowed a culture of suspicion to develop. The decline in trust is particularly acute in local government. The author argues that scrutiny, particularly at the local level has a role to play in restoring trust. The scrutiny by non-executive councillors of internal decisions and of other public authorities, including the NHS, provides an opportunity to reduce the accountability gap. Effective scrutiny will increase the dialogue between governors and the governed and should not be seen as a myopic and forensic activity to keep backbenchers tied up in the minutiae. The key features of scrutiny are that it serves as a challenge of a critical friend, it articulates the public voice, it is carried out by lay scrutineers and it makes an impact on public services.
Published by the Public Management and Policy Association ISBN 1 84508 003 3. Price 10 pounds.