OFFICER GUIDE TO SCRUTINY by etssetcf

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									                             OFFICER GUIDE TO SCRUTINY

Your role in Scrutiny - What is expected of you?

Scrutiny is the main way by which the Cabinet is held to account in public. As well as scrutinising individual decisions,
scrutiny has an important role in reviewing Council policies and making recommendations, to the Cabinet or full Council,
on future policy options. They can also review the discharge of non-executive functions and report on matters of more
general concern. This summary guide provides you with a snapshot of the various ways in which you might get involved
in scrutiny.

These are:

        • Scrutiny Questions
        • Call-in
        • Preparing information for scrutiny members i.e. preparing a Committee report
        • Getting involved in a detailed review


The Scrutiny function is supported by a small team of officers within the Scrutiny Unit, part of the Strategy and
Corporate services department. The team provides advice and support to members to undertake their work. This
includes research, analysing data and report preparation.

Lambeth’s Scrutiny Structure is:

    Overview and Scrutiny Committee – ultimate responsibility for reviewing the Council’s finances, performance
    management, equality issues and policy development
    Children & Young People’s Service Scrutiny Sub-Committee
    Environment & Community Safety Scrutiny Sub-Committee
    Health & Adult Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee*
    Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee
    Finance Scrutiny Sub-Committee

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* Health Scrutiny regulations came into power on 1 January 2003. This gives the Council authority to scrutinise the
health services provided within Lambeth to ensure they are relevant to local people.

Scrutiny questions

When a member of the public or Member of the Council asks a question of a scrutiny committee, the question will be
sent to the appropriate officer for a response. In line with Lambeth's corporate standards, the questioner should expect
a written response within 15 days of receipt of the question. A draft of the response should be sent to the relevant
Cabinet Member, before the questioner, for clearance. Once cleared, a copy of the response should be sent to the
questioner with a copy to the relevant Lead Scrutiny Officer.

If you are requested to provide a response, you should aim, as far as possible, to answer the question fully and
completely. Responses should be set out in letter format.

Scrutiny questions, together with the response, are submitted to the relevant Scrutiny Committee. Questioner’s are
entitled to ask a supplementary question so you may be asked to attend the Committee to answer any questions and to
assist members in any debate.




Call-in
When a key decision is made by the Cabinet collectively, by an Area Committee or by an officer, any member may call
in that decision for a scrutiny committee to consider. This is subject to the ‘urgency’ provisions set out in the Council’s
Consititution . The power of call in does not apply to the day to day management and operational decisions made by
officers under delegated powers and may only be exercised in relation to non-key decisions as part of a review of
service plans or during the best value process.

Officers should therefore build an implementation buffer into their project plan just in case the decision that they are
involved in progressing is called in.

Preparing information for scrutiny members i.e. preparing a Committee report
Officers may be asked to attend a Scrutiny meeting to ensure that Scrutiny Members have an understanding of the
issue or service area to be scrutinised including; aims and objectives, how they might be developed, the practicalities of
service delivery and issues and problems facing the Council.

This may involve preparing a report and/or providing information and advice on:

     Existing policies and practices;
     Recent committee reports/decisions;
     Legislative requirements upon the Council;
     Demand v supply/Recovery Plan/Community Plan targets;
     Limiting factors on performance


Getting involved in a detailed review

For more detailed investigations scrutiny commissions are established to consider specific topics in detail over a
specified period of time. The commissions are made up of small number of cross-party members who analyse and
assess a specific Council or another organisations activities and processes, with a view to making improvements. The
Race Commission and Parking Commission are just two examples.

Scrutiny is not about undertaking a witch-hunt, it is about working with the Cabinet and Officers to improve Council
services. Scrutiny Members will aim to adopt a non-adversarial approach and to work with officers to identify
improvements.

When both a Cabinet Member and senior officers are summoned to appear before a Scrutiny Committee, or are invited
to make a contribution to proceedings, each shall contribute within the scope of the normal boundaries of the officer and
member roles, at the direction of the Chair.

It is worth noting that Members are entitled to information in accordance with their rights as a Councillor. These rights
are specified in the Council’s code of conduct . Officers have a duty to provide information in accordance with that
advice, to all Members irrespective of their status and political party. Requests for information that do not meet the
criteria set out in the code of conduct should, in the first instance, be referred to your line manager, and where the
matter cannot be resolved, to the Council’s monitoring officer. Under no circumstances should they be ignored.

Further Information
Should you wish to discuss the information contained within this leaflet or any other matters relating to scrutiny, please
do not hesitate to contact the scrutiny team, they will be happy to help you.

Scrutiny Team
Room 203, Lambeth Town Hall
Brixton Hill
London SW2 1RW


scrutiny@lambeth.gov.uk

Tel: 020 7926 2173



Alternatively, information can be obtained from the Council’s internet site at www.lambeth.gov.uk

								
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