Democratic Services

Council overview and scrutiny Can add real value in these challenging and uncertain times

Headshot of Mark Palmer

Mark Palmer, Director of Development

12 October 2020

During these uncertain times, it will be imperative that councils and councillors listen to feedback from the public. That’s why Council Overview and Scrutiny is so important..

Hand using a magnifying glass to scrutinise a document

We’ve outlined some of the main benefits below…

  • The springboard for capturing people’s experience of service delivery and response
  • Engaging the community on what has worked and what hasn’t in terms of COVID response
  • Utilising task and finish work on topics such as wellbeing, mental health , health outcomes, debt/poverty and COVID recovery, ‘re-housed rough sleepers , retaining volunteering & community engagement after recovery
  • Ensuring transparency to decision-making processes and holding to account of decision makers both internally and externally
  • Community engagement – how effectively has the council and councillors worked with and joined together key strategic partners (business, public health and voluntary organisations) during the crisis.
  • ‘Horizon scanning’ the new normal, what will the future council look like? Innovation in service delivery and outcomes, the role of scrutiny in evaluating how service delivery, working practices have adapted, what’s been  successful and how this can be integrated in to the new way of working
  • Opportunity for a greater focus on pre-decision scrutiny with scrutiny been agile and a genuine ‘resource’ for the council
  • A catalyst for embedding public and partner engagement and opportunities for specific high profile Task and Finish groups to support recovery and undertaking an active policy development role in respect of the re-prioritisation of services.
  • Ensuring the overview and scrutiny work programme reflects public and partner ‘recovery’ priorities and utilising councillor virtual surgeries and social media to capture information and issues
  • Undertaking finance scrutiny, in particular exploring the impact COVID-19 is having on the budget for 20-21 and the assumptions in the Medium Term Financial Strategy
  • Reviewing how effective the ‘emergency plans’ and processes were in addressing this emergency – are they suited to a long-term emergency like a pandemic?
  • Scrutinising how effectively the political management arrangements have worked and in particular the changes to formal council meetings E.G. Remote Meetings

Overview and scrutiny training courses

If you are interested in overview and scrutiny training check out the following link:


To discuss how SEE can support your council Overview and Scrutiny arrangements contact

Need help?

To discuss how SEE can support your council overview and scrutiny arrangements contact us today.

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