Member induction: integrating training and development into substantive scrutiny work

Posted on 05/02/2021 by Ed Hammond.

At the moment, with Government having confirmed that elections will be going ahead, officers will be hard at work thinking about the design of member induction activity following the election in May. 

Many councils are expecting fairly substantial member turnover this year, reflecting experiences in 2018 and 2019. This offers its own challenge around drawing new councillors into the work of scrutiny. As well as offering traditional member training, CfGS also offers a way to move training and development out of the classroom and into the delivery of substantive scrutiny work.

The electoral cycle, and the cadences of the municipal year, often mean that new councillors don’t get the opportunity to engage with meaningful scrutiny work until the autumn – some months after their election. Task groups may take time to set up, and new councillors may not automatically have the opportunity to sit on them. New members can find themselves thrown into formal committees with little understanding of the context in which they work.

CfGS can help you to fully integrate induction into the way you design your work programme. This starts with working with you now to design two or three, short, sharp scrutiny projects for the May – July period on issues of local interest, where new councillors can take a lead in gathering evidence, developing findings and presenting recommendations. New members will go into the summer having already undertaken and completed a meaningful, effective and proportionate piece of work, and the scrutiny function will have delivered substantive outcomes over the course of a time of year when often little productive work happens.

CfGS can support you to:

  • Develop scopes for these short, sharp reviews. These reviews would be specifically designed to provide members with the opportunity to develop skills in:
    • Designing and managing work;
    • Reviewing information;
    • Chairing and questioning;
    • Engaging with the public;
    • Drawing together findings and developing recommendations.
  • Assign new members to these reviews which would be ready to start gathering evidence in late May, concluding before the summer break;
  • Work with you to engage with senior officers and members in your organisation to smooth the way for this work.

If this support might be of interest, please contact us – you can contact Ian Parry at 

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.