News: Survey reveals local government scrutiny is the ‘poor Cinderella’ compared to executive function

Posted on 03/12/2019 by Jenny Manchester.

News release



Local Government scrutiny has never been more important in restoring the public’s trust in democracy, however scrutiny is still the poor ‘Cinderella’ compared to the executive function in local authorities, according to the national charity responsible for championing excellence in governance and scrutiny in the private, public and voluntary sector.

Initial results from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny’s survey of scrutiny officers and councillors with an involvement in scrutiny revealed that:

  • Scrutiny officers believe that the majority of scrutiny recommendations in 2018/2019 were accepted by local authorities (82%)
  • 62% of respondents overall agreed that scrutiny has an impact on the lives of local people.

However only 31% of respondents agreed that there is ‘parity of esteem between the executive and scrutiny.’

Speaking at the Charity’s annual conference Driving Smarter Scrutiny, Jacqui McKinlay, Chair of the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny said today:

“It is no secret that essential trust between the public and our national democratic institutions has splintered in the past few years.  The role of scrutiny in publicly holding our local decision-makers to account is critical in building trust amongst residents.

“As the recent Government scrutiny regulations make clear, if scrutiny is to be play an essential role, there must be a council-wide cultural commitment to scrutiny starting from the top. Without executive buy-in and appropriate support to make it work, there is much less chance of scrutiny making an impact and adding value. Scrutiny is increasingly challenging, uncomfortable and potentially politically difficult – but it is an essential component of residents having trust that local democracy is working.

“Scrutiny officers and Councillors need the backing of their whole council to be the critical friend that residents need.”

Jacqui McKinlay was speaking at the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny’s flagship Driving Smarter Scrutiny annual conference for local government officers and councillors involved in scrutiny and governance.  The Conference was held at the Kings Fund, London on December 3, 2019.  


Media enquiries:

Jenny Manchester, CfGS Events and Project Support Manager 07913779049

Notes to editors

The Government Scrutiny Regulations came into force on 7 May 2019. 

There were 437 total survey responses to the CfGS annual survey which was open September-November 2019, with 242 different councils represented. Initial findings are released today, fuller more detailed analysis will be published in the New Year.