Financial scrutiny practice guide

Posted on 25/06/2020 by Ed Hammond.

Published in partnership with CIPFA. 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on council finances, uncertainty regarding the delayed fair funding review and future operations for social care – on top of a decade of progressively more significant financial constraints – has placed local government in a hugely challenging position. 

For the foreseeable future, council budgeting will be even more about the language of priorities and difficult choices than ever before. 

This guide suggests ways to move budget and finance scrutiny beyond set-piece scrutiny ‘events’ in December and quarterly financial performance scorecards being reported to committee. Effective financial scrutiny is one of the few ways that councils can assure themselves that their budget is robust and sustainable, and that it intelligently takes into account the needs of residents.

Scrutiny can provide an independent perspective, drawing directly on the insights of local people, and can challenge assumptions and preconceptions. It can also provide a mechanism to ensure an understanding tough choices that councils are now making.

About the Author: Ed Hammond

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