Strategic consultancy and improvement

We provide corporate governance support to councils, including support that draws an understanding of corporate governance needs into the planning of change. We anticipate that this level of support will be attractive for Chief Executives, Monitoring Officers and CFOs looking to strengthen and bolster governance, and ensure that governance supports major change and transformation. 

Governance and Scrutiny Design

Effective scrutiny involves good design of the governance and scrutiny framework. CfPS works alongside councils to advice and create the essential governance infrastructure. This is particularly useful as councils move into new operating models involving single or multiple commercial structures and commissioning or procuring arrangements. Building in solid scrutiny foundations from an early stage may avoid dissatisfaction or weaker scrutiny arrangements over time.

Financial management

A strong and effective process for member scrutiny of the budget is the best way to provide the assurance that councils need about their financial health – vital in these challenging times. Our support focuses on in-year scrutiny of the 2019/20 budget and the design and support for the budget development process for 2020/21. Our partnership with CIPFA gives us both the expertise and credibility to provide support on these issues:

  • Support for in year scrutiny of the 2019/20 budget will provide the tools and mechanisms, from April onwards, for councillors to proportionately and effectively oversee the council’s finances;
  • Design and support for 2020/21 budget development given that budget development will begin in April.

Commercialisation

If you are thinking of new ways to plan, develop and deliver services – and better ways to meet the council’s needs and the needs of local people. You know that you are satisfying your requirements on both commercial and local government law, but could you be doing more to engage councillors? Support on commercialisation focuses on helping councils to build strong governance systems which take account of members’ need to have assurance as councils become more entrepreneurial.

Economic development

Local growth will inevitably be a focus for you – as will managing the potential impacts of Brexit. But as the LEP Review concludes, you will need to understand what your relationship is going to be with your partners in the future – will the structure change, and will your priorities need to change as a result? CfPS is working with the LEP Network and with individual LEPs to strengthen governance in light of the new iteration of the NAF, making us the ideal partners for councils wishing to engage with this issue:

  • Support on the scrutiny of the LEP. Councils within a LEP area have a particular responsibility for holding the LEP to account. As Government seeks to develop and tighten LEPs’ governance arrangements this recognised role is likely to become more important.
  • Support on the relationship between the council and the LEP. This will include discussing the alignment of priorities, the visibility of the LEP’s work to the council and its partners and discussion of LEP scrutiny work.

Social care

The market environment is exceptionally challenging. As the amount councils are prepared to pay for care reduces and as councils revisit their criteria for funding care for individuals, some providers are finding it uneconomic to stay in the market. You need the confidence that oversight of the market is happening – as well as effective oversight of the way that local provision is designed and delivered. You need the support of oversight of large-scale transformation plans – particularly where you propose to establish new commissioning frameworks for the provision of adult social care. We have experience of supporting councils to design and deliver scrutiny of social care transformation, have a close relationship with the Care Quality Commission as it supports and advises councils, and a deep understanding of the sector and its challenges:

  • Social care is a challenging topic for councillors to scrutinise effectively. We can work with members to understand how they can best engage in the social care market landscape – and to consider what their unique role might be.
  • CfPS can provide assistance to review and revise commissioning frameworks to ensure and assure effective member-level oversight and governance.

Library services

Councils are feeling the financial pressure to rationalise their estate and their services. These are moves that inevitably produce strong local reactions. Added to local opposition comes the complexity of withdrawal of a statutory service. You need to be able to demonstrate that plans have been subject to vigorous and robust public scrutiny. We have expertise in dealing with and understanding the political, organisational and scrutiny consequences of transformation and major change – including the public fallout of contentious decisions and designing governance systems to take account of the need to vigorous public debate. We can provide two forms of independent assurance on library proposals:

  • Desk-based assurance on library reorganisation plans, which take account of the effectiveness of consultation and engagement of partners in the development of those plans;
  • Assistance as scrutiny reviews and takes a part in development of reorganisation plans. Given the likely high profile of library change plans we can provide ideas and support for the involvement and engagement of scrutiny as those plans are under development – reducing both the risk of ‘call in’ and the risk of subsequent challenge.

Reorganisation – LGR

You may not be actively pursuing plans, but it’s something you know you need to be thinking and talking about, even if only informally. We have provided assistance on the redesign of governance and scrutiny arrangements in several councils subject to reorganisation:  

  • We can work with scrutiny committees of all affected councils to lead them through the reorganisation process –
    • Firstly, by assisting with constructive member review of formal proposals, as they come to be submitted to Government;
    • Secondly, by establishing how scrutiny will operate during the transition period
    • Thirdly, we can assist in the establishment of a new formal role for scrutiny as the shadow authority transitions into the new council.
  • We can support the development of plans for reorganisation themselves. Before submission of formal plans, we can review and provide independent assurance on governance plans – strengthening them and making Government approval easier.