Culture change needed in local government

The Communities and Local Government Committee has stated that a 'culture change' is needed within local authorities to ensure decisions are correctly scrutinised.

The committee’s report says that scrutiny, which is often ‘marginalised’, is not held in high enough esteem, which causes a lack of constructive challenge to improve services for residents.

The group urge for further measures to strengthen the independence of overview and scrutiny committees at combined authorities, Local Economic Partnerships (LEPs) and arm’s-length bodies, as well as a new reporting system that better mirrors the relationship between celect committees and Parliament.

Clive Betts, chair of the committee, said: "Scrutiny is marginalised at too many local authorities, which in extreme cases can contribute to severe service failures, letting down council taxpayers and those that rely on services. Scrutiny of those in power is a vital part of any democratic system and has huge benefits for all. We are calling on the government to strengthen guidance to make overview and scrutiny committees truly independent of those they are charged with holding to account and to make sure the process is properly funded and respected. Only by rebalancing the system and ensuring scrutiny is held in high esteem will we see better decisions and the outcomes that residents who pay for council services deserve."

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