A year in review

Posted on 25/05/2017 by Jacqui McKinlay.

CfGS’s performance in 2016/17

Finding the time to step back and review a year’s worth of activity is never easy but it’s important to reflect on what went well, not so well and recognise the hard work and commitment of everyone involved. The last year or so has been challenging on so many fronts, however this week’s horrific attack in Manchester has forced us to face what difficult times we are living and put many of our other concerns into perspective.

For CfGS, 2016/17 was both busy and challenging: we achieved our target of providing more consultancy, training and policy support to a wider range of people, organisations and sectors. We did our bit to get governance and scrutiny higher up the agenda on issues including devolution, Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) and education accountability. We are also on the right track to become financially more sustainable to enable us to invest in our research and campaign priorities.

Here are some of the year’s highlights.  

  • 421 delegates from 150 organisations attended CfGS conferences, training and events including the annual local government conference, nine training days, two Sustainability and Transformation seminars (London/ Leeds) and a Devolution Scrutiny Event (Manchester). Overall 94% rated them as good or excellent, and 95% said the content met expectations.
  • We were commissioned by 60 councils in England to deliver either expert consultancy or in-house training. 62 councils also received support through our LGA funded Helpdesk.
  • Reflecting our ambition to support a wider range of organisations and sectors, we worked with: Skanska UK, Scottish Learning Disabilities Commission, Audit Scotland, APSE, and the Welsh Government and Assembly.
  • Research and guidance are still very popular on our website, 8 new ones issued this year:
  • With LGA funding, we worked with ten councils and areas, often helping to navigate through challenging issues such as devolution governance or putting in place new scrutiny or governance in response, often in sensitive political environments. Training has also been provided on children’s safeguarding governance and scrutiny. 
  • We’ve continued to support the National Health Scrutiny Forum and regional health scrutiny networks with Department of Health funding. Sustainability and Transformation Plans were a major focus as we ran our own events and supported regional events for CCG lay members and provider non-executives. We completed the second year of London Patient Voice, an excellent NHS London initiative to involve the public in commissioning decisions.
  • We got our voice heard much more this year including: being active in response to the CLG Select Committee review of local government scrutiny, speaking out on devolution and STP challenges, bringing together experts to focus the issue of accountability in our reforming school system and children’s services.
  • We’ve raised the profile and importance of good governance and scrutiny in the trade and national press on a wide range of issues. This resulted in 16 opinion pieces and over 40 other articles or mentions.
  • All this work has happened whilst: moving offices, saying goodbye and welcoming new Trustees and colleagues, speaking and attending 21 events, sponsoring and judging lots of awards, creating new partnerships and working with brilliant associates and partners!

All of a sudden we are near the end of May and 2017/18 is already proving as exciting and demanding as last year!  Accompanying the publication of this review is an infographic summarising findings from our scrutiny perceptions survey – it highlights some of the challenges ahead which we all face. Keep an eye on our newsletter and website for new governance and scrutiny offers to local government, health, housing and other sectors. Also watch out for more details of our exciting work with construction giant Skanska UK.


About the Author: Jacqui McKinlay

Jacqui was Chief Executive of the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny from 2015 until 2021.