The scrutiny committee will be able to establish task and finish groups which will focus on particular topics or issues of local concern.
Through these time-limited reviews of local issues and services, scrutiny activities will not be limited to the members of the committee. Rather all non-Cabinet members can and should participate. These scrutiny reviews will also create opportunities for a broad range of organisations, stakeholders and the public in Brent to get involved in the work of scrutiny.
The Scrutiny Committee may undertake external scrutiny of other organisations that provide local services such as education. The council has a statutory power to scrutinise local health provision and also crime and disorder functions. This can be achieved by requesting information from other public agencies or by asking them to attend a meeting of the committee for questions.
Members can also investigate any issue that is affecting local communities or the borough. External scrutiny is an area in which real value can be added, enabling Members to explore issues of public concern and take the lead on behalf of their community.
Before a task group begins work, it will agree the following:
- why it is looking at this subject / issue Its key lines of enquiry
- the expected outcomes from the work
- the evidence that it will need to look at
- officer support and timescales for the work.
Task groups meetings are usually informal and take place in any suitable location, normally determined by the subject that the task group is looking at. Evidence is obtained from a variety of sources, including council officers, experts, service users, partner organisations and other local authorities.
Evidence is gathered in a number of ways including:
- written evidence
- verbal evidence / presentations followed by questions
- consultation events
- best practice visits to other local authorities or service providers.
Once the task group has gathered its evidence then it will prepare a report setting out its findings and recommendations. The report and recommendations reflect the consensual view of all the members of the task group.
The report will then be agreed by the sponsored scrutiny committee before being put before the Cabinet for consideration. If the Cabinet accepts the recommendations from a task group report, the committee that set up the task group will be responsible for monitoring the outcomes and impacts of the agreed recommendations.