Local authority scrutiny: inquiry continued

15 September 2017

The Committee will continue the work of the previous Committee on the effectiveness of local authority overview and scrutiny committees.


These committees were created by the Local Government Act 2000 to balance the increased powers of Leaders and Cabinets, but their performance has varied across councils.

The Committee will therefore seek to establish whether the overview and scrutiny model is meeting its objectives and to highlight examples where scrutiny has worked well, and instances where it has not.

Local authorities have significant discretion on how they deliver the scrutiny function, and the Committee will consider how decision-makers can best be held to account.

Submitting written evidence

The Committee will make full use of the written evidence received for this inquiry during the last Parliament, and those that submitted written evidence should not submit this again.

However, stakeholders and the public are invited to submit any updates to those original submissions if they so wish by Friday 6 October.

The Committee also welcomes new submissions from those who did not submit evidence previously.

You can submit written evidence through the written submissions form.

Terms of  reference

The terms of reference of the inquiry seek to address the following points:

  • Whether scrutiny committees in local authorities in England are effective in holding decision-makers to account
  • The extent to which scrutiny committees operate with political impartiality and independence from executives
  • Whether scrutiny officers are independent of and separate from those being scrutinised
  • How chairs and members are selected
  • Whether powers to summon witnesses are adequate
  • The potential for local authority scrutiny to act as a voice for local service users
  • How topics for scrutiny are selected
  • The support given to the scrutiny function by political leaders and senior officers, including the resources allocated (for example whether there is a designated officer team)
  • What use is made of specialist external advisers
  • The effectiveness and importance of local authority scrutiny of external organisations

Further information

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