About Sub-Regional ScrutinyWhat is Scrutiny?
It is the mechanism by which public accountability is exercised, as executive boards make decisions on behalf of their communities, the powers of scrutiny allow non-executive members to hold them to account for decisions taken on behalf of public interest.
Through the checks and balances made by scrutiny members, the public are able to influence the strategic direction of decision makers and policies. They are able to assess performance, service delivery and challenge local councils and external public sector organisations to make improvements.
The Centre for Public Scrutiny defines the role of scrutiny as –
1. providing ‘critical friend’ challenge to executive policy-makers and decision-makers
2. enabling the voice and concerns of the public and its communities
3. being carried out by ‘independent minded governors’ who lead and own the scrutiny process
4. driving improvement in public services
The purpose of scrutiny at the sub-regional level
GMCA / AGMA scrutiny exists to achieve greater public accountability over decisions made and services delivered for the whole of Greater Manchester. The GMCA Operating Agreement set out the key statutory functions for the AGMA Scrutiny Pool as follows -
(i) the decisions of the Executive Board;
(ii) the decisions of the GMCA; and
(iii) major and strategic decisions of the TfGMC which are taken by the TfGMC in accordance with the delegations set out in Schedule 1, Parts B, C and D of this Operating Agreement; and to make recommendations for improvement and/or change;
b)investigating matters of strategic importance to residents of the Constituent Councils and reporting with recommendations to the Executive Board, the GMCA, or the TfGMC as appropriate;
c)reviewing and commenting upon the following periodic reports to the Executive Board in advance of their submission for approval to the Executive Board:-
(i) any budgets for sub regional functions which are the responsibility of the Executive Board; and Appendix 1.
(ii) Annual refreshes of AGMA Commission Work Programmes as detailed in Clause 8.4 of the AGMA Operating Agreement and Constitution;
d)reviewing the performance of the Executive Board and the GMCA against objectives within the Greater Manchester Strategy;
e)facilitating the exchange of information about the work of AGMA, the GMCA and the TfGMC and to share information and outcomes from reviews;
f)The role of these arrangements in relation to TfGM will include:
(i) monitoring TfGM’s delivery of transport services against the Local Transport Plan and to make recommendations for improvement and/or changes;
(ii) obtaining explanations from TfGM regarding its delivery of transport services.
Its four key functions are -
1. To hold the GMCA and other decision making bodies to account
Through the use of scrutiny powers to ‘call in’ decisions made by the GMCA / AGMA Executive Board / TfGMC that could have significant effects on the residents within the sub-regional administrative area.
When a decision is made, it is published to all scrutiny pool members. If five or more agree to call a decision in, notification to the decision making body must be made within five working days. Pool members are then invited to a meeting with the relevant decision makers, to explain their concerns and reasons for the call-in. A decision can then be referred to the decision making body to be reconsidered.
Within the Combined Authority operating agreement, an extract regarding specific details for AGMA Scrutiny can be found in your Scrutiny Members Pack, and full details can be found on the AGMA website(http://www.agma.gov.uk/cms_media/files/7_establishment_of_the_combined_authority.pdf)
2. To provide a ‘critical friend’ to policy and strategy development
Through regular monitoring of developing policies and strategies of the Combined Authority, the AGMA Executive and the Commissions and asking challenging yet constructive questions such as “What is being done?”, “Is this the best way?” and “Can it be improved?”
Scrutiny in respect of the AGMA Health function will be undertaken in accordance with separate statutory arrangements.
The terms of reference for these scrutiny arrangements and the work programme in relation to scrutiny of the Executive Board, the GMCA, the TFGMC and TfGM will be subject to an annual review.
3. To undertake scrutiny reviews into areas of strategic importance for the people of Greater Manchester
Reviews of the GMCA / AGMA Scrutiny Pool should aim to investigate matters of strategic significance for the Greater Manchester area; its work should complement and not duplicate that of the individual local authorities, but review sub-regional issues that are directly linked to the work of the CA, AGMA Executive and its Commissions.
Review panels are similar in approach to Parliamentary Select Committees, panel members collect evidence through a variety of sources including –
- Questioning expert ‘witnesses’
- Receiving reports and other literature
- Undertaking consultation
- Communication with stakeholders
The review panels work with this information to make suggestions for improvement, acknowledge good practice and make recommendations, they do not deal with individual issues or queries that are more suitably dealt with by a local authority or specific organisation. The findings of each review will be submitted to the relevant body in order to influence the relevant decision makers.
Each authority undertakes the scrutiny review process slightly differently, below is a diagram which illustrates the method by which a scrutiny review will be undertaken at a sub-regional level.
4. To monitor the delivery of the Greater Manchester Strategy
The Scrutiny Pool will review the Delivery Plans for the Greater Manchester Strategy on a regular basis to ensure that the indicators are travelling in the desired direction. In undertaking this function the Pool can aid the GMCA in developing a detailed performance management framework for their work across the sub-region.