2019 annual survey of overview and scrutiny in local government now open

Posted on 10/09/2019 by Ed Hammond.

2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of the legislative changes that led to the establishment of the overview and scrutiny function in English and Welsh councils. In the runup to this momentous event we want to have – and we want you to have – the fullest possible picture of scrutiny across the country. Notable practice, practical experiences, resourcing, impact and the commitment of the executive – the better we can collectively understand these issues, the more we can do to improve scrutiny across the country.

The main way that we, at CfGS, help to do this is through our annual surveys of overview and scrutiny in local government. This year’s survey is now open – you can respond here (or by navigating to https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/FXM85B6 )

The closing date is the end of the day on 15 November, but don’t put it off! If you have a moment, do it now.

In the last couple of years we have asked practitioners to fill in a fairly short survey. This year, we want a fuller picture, so we’re asking you to spend a little more time to tell us a bit more about your work and your opinions.

The survey has two parts.

The most senior officer in the council with a day-to-day responsibility for scrutiny is asked to answer a detailed technical survey including questions about committee structures and recommendation monitoring – doing so will take just under half an hour. Everyone else is asked to fill in a survey which focuses on your perceptions of scrutiny’s impact and effectiveness, and of your organisation’s commitment to scrutiny’s work. This should take under 10 minutes.

Why should you devote your time to filling this survey in for us?

  • Because it will help us and you to better understand the challenges you face, and how you can overcome those challenges;
  • Because, together, the responses will give you the kinds of insight you need to reflect on how you do your work in light of the new Government scrutiny guidance;
  • Because having effective, robust information about scrutiny and its effectiveness helps us to argue the case for scrutiny and its role both to national bodies, and to the leaderships of your own authorities.

We are particularly keen to get councillors to respond to our survey this year. We know that many councils seek to carry out scrutiny member surveys, and we think that our survey can bolster this work. With this in mind, we are offering that if 15 or more councillors from your authority fill the survey out we will be able to draw out that authority-specific data for you – both to help you to understand members’ responses to and perceptions of scrutiny in your own authority, but also to allow you to compare against neighbours from other councils. As you would expect we will make a small charge for this service. We’ll provide more information on exactly what this will involve in the coming weeks.

As an incentive to fill in the survey, every person who provides a response will be entered into a draw from which we will pick three people to each receive a free pass to our conference in December. This pass can either be used by you or any other person you choose to nominate.

We’ll be publishing our outline findings at our conference in December, and a more detailed report setting out more comprehensive information towards the end of January.

If you’ve any questions about this year’s survey, please contact Ed Hammond on ed.hammond@cfgs.org.uk or 020 3866 5109.

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.