About CfPS

What is the Centre for Public Scrutiny?

CfPS is a national centre of expertise on governance and scrutiny. We passionately believe that better governance and scrutiny leads to more effective decision-making, reduced risk and ultimately improved outcomes. Our work spans corporate decisions impacting on the public to how tax payers’ money is spent. We focus on behaviours and culture, as well as design and delivery.

Our work championing governance and scrutiny in public, private and voluntary sector organisations is for everyone’s benefit. The challenges facing businesses and organisations now and in the future, require collaborative approaches.

What we do

We do this through research, policy development, campaigning, consultancy and training.

Since its launch fifteen years ago, CfPS has supported hundreds of organisations and people.  through leading research, policy and practical support. With a long-track record helping local councils, we also work with a wide range of others including health bodies, housing organisations, membership organisations, government agencies, regulators and private sector businesses. We deliver large improvement programmes on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government (through the Local Government Association) and the NHS.

Through our research and policy development we have built a strong evidence base for impact, value and broader benefits of good governance. Our research forms a national library of scrutiny best practice across a range of sectors. Reports and guides are published online and are available free to download.  We use this evidence to campaign nationally, advocating the benefits of transparency and accountability.

We support organisations directly through consultancy

Central to our work is promoting organisational cultures which are open to challenge and scrutiny – this forms an essential bedrock on which governance behaviours, structures and processes become effective.

We work directly with organisational leaders, boards and teams through our consultancy service. Our support is tailored to each client, analysing the particular governance and scrutiny challenge they face and designing creative solutions to overcome them.

Our expertise is relied on to provide intensive support for councils experiencing high profile systemic failures. Organisations commission us to provide comprehensive governance audits and help the implementation of new decision-making systems. Frequently we help resolve governance or scrutiny failures caused by political tensions, following poor inspection results or to manage reputational risk.

In both public and private sectors, we support transformation projects, ensuring that decision making is robust and providing assurance that new systems will improve resilience, raise standards and reduce waste.

We raise skills and standards through training

Governance and scrutiny is ultimately about people. CfPS is the leading provider of scrutiny and governance training in the country. Each year we train hundreds of leaders, politicians, public servants and employees through both ‘in-house’ training and through our open courses. Delivered by expert facilitators, our training is tailored to meet our clients’ needs, improving skills, knowledge and understanding.  

We run national conferences and events bringing together governance and scrutiny experts and practitioners to learn about the latest developments in governance, provide networking opportunities and help raise professional standards. You can find out more about our training and events here.

Why you need to talk to us

Good governance and scrutiny helps reduce risk, increases resilience, improves decision making and delivers value for money. The consequences of poor governance, inadequate scrutiny and a lack of transparency and accountability are regularly reported and becoming more high profile as public trust in institutions diminishes.

CfPS is a charity (1136243) and a limited company (5133443) governed by a board of trustees which is Chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake.

Our purpose

The Centre for Public Scrutiny’s (CfPS) purpose is to improve lives and places through effective governance and public scrutiny.

We are a national, independent charity with a long history of providing governance and scrutiny support to local government, alongside other public services and sectors.

CfPS exists to promote and support organisations to be more open to scrutiny and involve others in decision-making. To achieve this, governance frameworks need to work from an external, as well as internal, perspective. 

Now, more than ever, we need trusted decisions. We believe that decisions are better made when they involve others, whether that’s democratically elected representatives, those affected by the decisions or other key stakeholders, including employees and partners.

We work with a wide range of organisations, people and places to support them in developing a culture and ways of working which incorporate challenge, scrutiny and involvement. We also provide consultancy, training and policy support which gives people the skills, knowledge and confidence needed to design and deliver good governance.

CfPS's strategic aims

CfPS will achieve its purpose by:

  1. Making a positive difference by promoting the benefits and value of public scrutiny and good governance.
  2. Supporting organisations and individuals to make their governance and scrutiny arrangements work more effectively from an internal and external perspective.
  3. Working in partnership with others to achieve our purpose and increase our influence and impact.
  4. Innovating in new areas to provide policy and practical support which helps improve governance and scrutiny.
  5. Creating an environment in which our CfPS team (Trustees, staff and associates) can do their best work.
  6. Raising our profile and diversifying our funding so that we can help improve more lives and places through effective governance and public scrutiny.

You can find CfPS's current strategy 'Opening Governance' in full here.

Trustee Board

The Centre for Public Scrutiny is a charity (charity number 1136243) and company limited by guarantee (company number 5133443), governed by a Board of Trustees and supported by an Advisory Board. Since becoming a charity in 2010, we have published Annual Trustees Reports on our work.

Our Board of Trustees was set up when we became a charity in 2010. The Trustee Board powers and responsibilities are set out in our Memorandum and Articles of Association. In brief, our Trustee Board agrees strategic direction of the organisation and its financial sustainability by approving the business plan and annual budget. It meets quarterly where it monitors performance and financial information, as well as key policies. The Board is made up of nine members and meets four times a year. Currently there are six independent trustees and three trustees from our founding members (the LGA, CIPFA and LGiU).

Chair: Lord Bob Kerslake

Lord Kerslake is the Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny. He is also Chair of Peabody, Chair of London CIV, and is President of the Local Government Association. A former Head of the Civil Service, Lord Kerslake led the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from November 2010, stepping down in February 2015. Prior to his DCLG role, Lord Kerslake was the first Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, where he was responsible for promoting new and affordable housing supply; supporting the regeneration of cities, towns and neighbourhoods; improving existing housing stock, and advancing sustainability and good design. Before joining the Civil Service Lord Kerslake received a knighthood for his services to local government, spending eight years serving the London Borough of Hounslow and then a further 11 years leading Sheffield Council.  In early 2015, he was made a life peer, taking the title Baron Kerslake, of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield.

Vice-chair: Jim Clifford OBE

Partner and Director, BWB

Trustee: Brian Roberts

Director of Corporate Resources and Deputy Chief Executive at Leicestershire County Council

Trustee: Jonathan Carr-West

Chief Executive, Local Government Information Unit (LGiU)

Trustee: Cllr John Riley (London Borough of Hillingdon)

Local Government Association

Independent trustee: Vicki Lawson-Brown
Independent trustee: Amanda Phillips
Independent trustee: Dr Diana Stirbu
Independent trustee: Dr Catherine Howe

ADVISORY BOARD

The CfPS Advisory Board was formally established in 2003 to advise on our set up and development. When we became an incorporated company, the Advisory Board continued, alongside the Trustee Board, to ensure stakeholder involvement and engagement in our strategic direction. All members attend by invitation of the Chair of Trustees, who also chairs the Advisory Board. No fewer than two Trustees always attend the Advisory Board meetings to hear the views of the Advisory Board first hand. The Advisory Board meets four times a year. We try and maintain as broad a membership as possible to represent all areas of our work. Our current membership includes:

  • Representatives from organisations with a similar remit e.g. regulators, Ombudsmen, regional or national scrutiny bodies.
  • Individuals with relevant personal expertise or experience such as: governance, scrutiny, accountability, research, policy, charitable sector.
  • Individual from stakeholder groups or sectors that we wish to develop stronger relationships with, for example: government, research or funding foundations, media, and academia.

CfPS has a range of income streams that fund the work that we do, they include:

  • Funding from the Local Government Association to support local authority overview and scrutiny functions to improve their capacity to hold local decision-makers to account.
  • Funding from the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health to deliver a programme of support for scrutiny of healthcare, social care and health improvement. The funding has supported regional scrutiny networks, innovative scrutiny reviews, a diverse range of events and publications. We also run a successful and influential Health Accountability Forum that brings stakeholders from around the country together with policy makers and commentators on a quarterly basis.
  • Working with individual organisations to provide specific support to review and improve their governance and scrutiny functions. These have included local authorities, government departments, regulators, universities, a private sector organisation, a wide range of NHS trusts and authorities, police authorities and others.
  • We receive funding from a range of organisations to produce practical guides and research publications.
  • CfPS runs regular national training days aimed at improving knowledge and skills on key topics such as questioning skills, safeguarding children, performance management.
  • We run a national conference which brings together key players from local and national government and governance and scrutiny practitioners with the aim of sharing best practise and focusing on the challenges ahead.

Any surplus from our work is re-invested back into the organisation’s activities which supports our charitable aims and delivers more effective decision-making and improved outcomes for people.

Contact and find us

Centre for Public Scrutiny
77 Mansell Street, London E1 8AN

Tel: 0203 866 5100 | Email: info@cfps.org.uk | Follow us on Twitter: @cfpscrutiny

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Map of 77 Mansell St, London E1 8FE