Cardiff Business School launches handbook to help councils collaborate on accountability
23 April 2015
Cardiff Business School’s Dr Rachel Ashworth and Dr James Downe have launched the Joint Scrutiny Handbook for councils and public sector partners at a national conference.
The handbook is a joint enterprise between Cardiff Business School and three local councils (Caerphilly County Borough Council, Monmouthshire County Council and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council). It aims to provide practical support for councils to work together on scrutiny, an accountability process which reviews performance and makes policy recommendations. The handbook builds upon earlier research conducted on behalf of the Welsh Government, published in a report called, ‘Developing a culture of collaborative scrutiny: an evaluation of practice and potential’.
The Joint Scrutiny Handbook sets out a ‘step-by-step’ approach to joint scrutiny drawing on best practice from Wales and England. Specifically, it helps authorities prepare for joint working, conduct a robust and effective joint scrutiny process and, identify key public policy outcomes and learning points resulting from joint scrutiny.
Hazel Ilett, Scrutiny Manager from Monmouthshire County Council, explained that: “I feel the handbook will significantly benefit the scrutiny community as councils move towards collaborative working. The guide will be of most value to scrutiny practitioners in designing joint scrutiny arrangements to ensure effective governance”.
Local politicians will also use the handbook as part of their role in holding public organisations to account. Commenting on the launch of the handbook, Cllr. Christine Forehead, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Governance said "This is an excellent example of what can be achieved through effective partnership working. The handbook will help improve the scrutiny process in local government and will become an invaluable resource thanks to the wealth of information and advice it offers".
The Chair and Scrutiny Champion of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr. John Prosser, added “Scrutiny is becoming an increasingly important mechanism to ensure that the correct decisions are taken and that ‘value for money’ outcomes benefit communities. The Joint Scrutiny Handbook will be an invaluable tool and useful reference point for councillors as they engage with partner service providers”.
For Cardiff Business School, the production of the handbook provides clear evidence of successful partnership working between the university and local government. The handbook enables learning and good practice to be disseminated across Wales which will lead to improved scrutiny and performance of public services, whilst increasing levels of accountability and public confidence.