Scrutiny and Public Engagement 15 June 2012 Tim Buckle [email protected]
What is scrutiny?
‘Scrutiny’ in context
•Local Authority Overview & Scrutiny •Parliamentary Select Committees •National Assembly for Wales Committees •Regulators – e.g. Wales Audit Office, Estyn •Internal Audit functions •Performance management arrangements
Why scrutinise? “Scrutiny ensures that executives are held accountable for their decisions, that their decision-making process is clear and accessible to the public and that there are opportunities for the public and their representatives to influence and improve public policy”* Centre for Public Scrutiny, Introduction to scrutiny web pages, www.cfps.org.uk
Overview & Scrutiny Committee Roles in Local Government
•Scrutiny committees do no make decisions, they make recommendations •Holding the ‘executive’ to account •Policy development and review •External scrutiny of partnerships, partners and issues of community concern (including ‘designated persons’)
Ways of working •Various ways in which scrutiny committees can work: –Task and finish groups –Asking for written submissions –Co-opting additional members –Undertaking site visits –Questions and answer sessions
Experiences of ‘scrutiny’ to date…
Principles of Good Scrutiny
•Constructive ‘critical friend’ challenge •Amplifies the voice and concerns of the public •Led by independent-minded people who take responsibility for their role •Drives improvement in public services Source: Centre for Public Scrutiny, www.cfps.org.uk
Report of the ‘Beecham Review’ (2006)
•Recommended that local authorities: “enhance challenge capacity by raising the profile of scrutiny, making it a strong vehicle for service improvement and citizen engagement, by involving a wider range of stakeholders and developing skills across sectors”* *Beyond Boundaries, Citizen-Centred Local Services for Wales, Welsh Assembly Government, 2006, Crown Copyright
Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 Section 62:
“Introduces provision to require local authorities to make arrangements to enable the public to express their views in relation to any matter being considered by the committee.”
*Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011: Explanatory Notes
“Half the public do not actually want to be involved in decision-making in their local area. Even more – 55% - do not wish to be involved in decisionmaking in the country as a whole.”*
*Audit of Political Engagement 6, The 2009 Report: with a focus on political participation and citizenship, Hansard Society, 2009
Two years later
“the situation has now changed in the intervening two years. The proportion of people who want to get involved in decision-making in their local area has fallen by five points to 43%; in contrast the two in five people who want to be involved in national decision-making remains stable.”
*Audit of Political Engagement 8, The 2011 Report: with a focus on coalition politics, civic involvement and the Big Society, Hansard Society, 2011
How can scrutiny amplify ‘the voice and concerns of the public’?
Why engage the public in overview & scrutiny?
•Scrutiny as an advocate for the local community •Improve the evidence base for recommendations •Public accountability *Citizen-centred scrutiny: Engaging the public in overview & scrutiny, July 2012, WLGA
How / when the public can be involved in overview & scrutiny?
•Developing the forward work programme •Helping to shape/scope scrutiny exercises •Evidence for scrutiny exercises •At the end of a scrutiny exercise – communicating findings •Observing scrutiny meetings *Citizen-centred scrutiny: Engaging the public in overview & scrutiny, July 2012, WLGA
Some examples of public engagement through scrutiny in Wales •Merthyr Tydfil – co-opting members of the public onto scrutiny committees •Monmouthshire – gathering evidence from the public through scrutiny •Newport – involving stakeholders in the scoping of a scrutiny review •Wrexham – engaging the public and partners in scrutiny work programming •Swansea – use of social media / online questionnaire
How could public engagement through scrutiny be improved?
Further information and resources
•Centre for Public Scrutiny – www.cfps.org.uk
•Scrutiny Time Bank – www.scrutinytimebank.co.uk
•WLGA overview & scrutiny pages – www.wlga.gov.uk