Headlines: October 9th, 2003

More than 5,500 elected members of local councils are involved in scrutinizing issues across public services effecting their electorates and they are delivering results. The first survey by the Centre for Public Scrutiny concluded that: “The value and potential for scrutiny is being reached.”The public scrutineers have carried out almost 1,700 investigations, and influenced decisions across the board. The Environment Agency altered a work programme related to flooding. An inquiry in to an incident at a detention centre for asylum seekers resulted in a promise from the government that the police authority would not pick up the bill for 100 million pounds. A review into raising educational standards was the trigger for a conference attended by 130 delegates.

An average of 37 elected members are involved in scrutiny in each council, typically with 5 scrutiny committees. 55 % of councils have a designated budget for scrutiny work. Over 75 % of the recommendations of scrutiny committees are accepted by the executive of the council.

Respondents to the survey believe that the greatest challenges for the coming year will be developing the health scrutiny role and training for members. There is also a concern that more must be done on following up scrutiny recommendations to ensure that they are implemented.

Link: http://www.cfps.org.uk/survey/survey.pdf