Working with CIPFA to transform scrutiny of local finances

Posted on 25/06/2020 by Ed Hammond.

We have today (25 June 2020) published a comprehensive practice guide on financial scrutiny, with our colleagues at CIPFA. 

You can read a piece in the LGC by CIPFA’s Diana Melville (paywall) on the importance of effective scrutiny of council finances. 

Even before the pandemic hit, local government finances were in a fragile state. Now, many councils are struggling to deliver a balanced budget in 2020/21 – let alone develop robust plans for 2021/22 and beyond. Income from fees, charges and commercial ventures has dropped precipitously, while demand only grows.

Scrutiny councillors need to understand what this means for the communities they serve. Publishing this guide in June provides practitioners with the opportunity to use it immediately to plan their approach to scrutiny of the 2021/22 budget. The traditional approach – a couple of set piece meetings in December or January – is no longer tenable. This guide sets out a range of alternatives, and will help scrutiny practitioners and finance professionals to work together to put more robust arrangements in place.

In the coming months, we will be doing further work with both CIPFA and the LGA to support and advise councils and councillors on scrutiny and oversight of financial matters. In the meantime, we continue to be able to provide support to councils who want to put the steps set out in this guide into practice. You can contact us here.

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.