We lead the conversation on governance and scrutiny in local authorities.
We benefit from a unique support arrangements with the Local Government Association, which enables us to deliver a comprehensive, programme of support to councils on matters focused on overview and scrutiny. This means that under certain circumstances, our offers below can be provided to councils free of charge: please contact us for more information.
For councillors and officers in local government we have a comprehensive training and development offer; we run short and long courses throughout the year and provide an in-house training service.
We will be publishing more about our support offer to councils for the rest of the financial year 2020/21 in the coming weeks.
Need to tackle a complex governance issue in your authority, but not quite sure where to start? Councillors need support on changes to governance and local democracy? Just need some external assurance and advice on improving governance in your area? CfGS can help.
- Scrutiny Improvement Reviews. We can help local authorities to evaluate and improve their overview and scrutiny functions – governed by the fundamental [“four principles” of good scrutiny] that we first developed nearly twenty years ago. In light of the pandemic councils will have fundamental challenges that scrutiny can help to solve – an SIR will ready scrutiny for this challenge. You can find more information here. Read about our work in Merton;
- Governance change. We are the acknowledged national experts on formal governance change in local government, and have worked with dozens of councils to help to support councillors to understand and act on their plans for moving to and from the leader/cabinet, mayoral and committee systems – and the adoption of hybrid governance arrangements. We can help to lead councillors through this complex, technical and often highly political issue. Read about our work in Warwick.
- Reviewing local democracy. Increasing numbers of councils want to rethink and reset the relationship between themselves and local people. Embarking on a large-scale review of this kind can be daunting. At a financial straitened time it can also seem like less of a priority, but major changes to services require thinking about how the council might need to change the way it works to give local people more of a voice and say. We can help either by providing technical advice to a councillor-led exercise (as we did in Croydon), by providing secretariat support to an independent panel (as we did in Newham) or by carrying out our own, independent review of your plans and arrangements (as we did in Kensington and Chelsea).
- Reviewing your constitution. A more technical review of your constitution is one of those important jobs that often get postponed because nobody at a senior level quite has the time. We can carry out such a review quickly and independently, providing an action plan to support change and aligning your approach with the drafting of your next Annual Governance Statement. Check back shortly when you will be able to read about our work in Sutton and Birmingham.
- Supporting scrutiny as it contributes to budget development. This is a crucial duty for scrutiny – particularly in the coming financial year. Our recent publication, providing a practice guide on council finances, will help you to address this issue – we can provide practical support in taking action. Read more here.
- COVID-19 “step back” reviews. This autumn, as lockdown eases and some of the more immediate emergency obligations on local authorities also recede, the opportunity exists for councils to conduct short, sharp reviews to identify lessons learned from this year, to inform the approach to any new restrictions this winter. You can find out more about our general COVID-19 support offer here.