An update on the scrutiny guidance

Posted on November 15, 2018 by Ed Hammond. Tags: ,

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An update on the scrutiny guidance

I wanted to share an update with you on our, and MHCLG’s, progress on the drafting of the scrutiny guidance. We have now completed the draft of the sections that MHCLG asked us to write, and I’m waiting for them to send the latest draft back to me so that I can write some case studies to slot in.

Publication is still due “by the end of the calendar year”. We still can’t confirm when this is going to be. My gut feeling is that, with the cross-Government signoff process still to be undertaken, we are looking at a date deeper into December than we might originally have liked or expected – although I very much hope that it will be published before Monday 31st!

Because we know that the guidance will be subject of great interest to scrutiny officers and the councillors that they support, we are organising an event in January which will have it as its sole focus.

The conference will take place at Highgate House, Northampton on Monday 28th January 2019 – you can book your place here. We’ve gone for a venue outside of London with good road and rail access and parking which we hope will work well for people.

We’d like to invite you to attend to talk to your peers about the content and what it means for you – we hope to secure speakers from Government, and senior leaders in other organisations, to share their take on it too.

Now that we’re deep into the drafting process I want to take the opportunity to thank those of you who contacted us with comments and views on what the guidance ought to contain.

Those comments have thrown into sharp relief for us the issue of who the guidance is actually for. As we’ve mentioned before, we are keen that the guidance tread a path between two different needs. On the one hand, it needs to be a document with useful, practical information for those new to scrutiny, and those councils where the level of capability and expertise on scrutiny issues is limited. On the other, it has to empower and enable more experienced practitioners to keep on doing what they’re doing without imposing onerous requirements and expectations – however inadvertently.

As such, we hope and expect that the guidance will comment on different approach, and present ideas on practical issues – but in a way that emphasises that each area has to find its own way.

We’re sorry that we’re unable to share the guidance with scrutiny practitioners before it’s published. It’s very much owned by MHCLG, and it’s not Government practice to develop these kinds of things iteratively in the public eye.

About the Author: Ed Hammond

Ed leads CfPS's work on devolution, transformation and on support to councils and other public bodies on governance and accountability.