Scrutiny members have a duty, along with the Cabinet, to ensure that the decisions the Council makes are in the best interests of the people of Milton Keynes. Councillors involved in Scrutiny are often described as “critical friends”; their role is not always to directly challenge Cabinet decisions but to suggest ways that they can be improved.

What Does Scrutiny Do?

The majority of the decisions taken by the Council are the responsibility of a small group of councillors known as the Cabinet (or the Executive) and Council officers, where the Cabinet's powers are delegated.

Scrutiny Committees and Task and Finish Groups are made up of councillors who are not part of the Cabinet.  They have a number of important roles, which include: holding the Executive to account, monitoring performance, helping to develop policy, scrutinising the work of local partners and promoting public engagement.

Holding the Executive to account

Scrutiny councillors can challenge Executive decisions and, where appropriate, “call-in” decisions and refer them back to the responsible Cabinet member for reconsideration.

More information is available on the Cabinet and call-in procedure

Monitoring the Council’s performance

Scrutiny councillors will receive regular information on how the Council is performing and may choose to investigate areas where improvement is required.

Helping to develop policy

Scrutiny councillors will have the opportunity to contribute to policy development.  This includes reviewing policy documents before they are considered by Cabinet (pre-decision scrutiny) and, more often, helping at the initial stage of policy development to ensure that all important issues are considered.

Scrutinising the work of local partners

Scrutiny councillors have the power to consider issues that are important to local people but are the responsibility of other agencies, such as the local health service.  Scrutiny councillors can request the presence of key partners at its meetings where it is considered appropriate.

Promoting public engagement

The Scrutiny function provides a valuable opportunity for members of the public and representatives of local partners and stakeholders to be involved in the Council’s work. Members of the public are actively encouraged to attend meetings.

Scrutiny Work Programme

The Scrutiny Management Committee agrees the work programmes for the three Committees and Task and Finish Groups.  The items will have been prioritised according to their strategic importance and have been consulted on by officers, councillors and partners.

The criteria used to prioritise items can be generalised as follows:

  • Where councillors can have the greatest impact
  • Where there is a public or community interest in the item
  • Where there are budget implications

Work programmes are subject to change in recognition of the fact that other issues may arise which will need to be given greater priority.

The Scrutiny Work Programme is not the exclusive property of the Management Committee and welcomes suggestions from the public on issues it should consider.

Budget Scrutiny Committee

Provides dedicated, cross-party consideration of the Budget and the Council’s finances with a view to establishing and maintaining resources which are fit for purpose and address the needs and aspirations of the people of Milton Keynes and the Council’s priorities. 

Children and Young People Committee

Scrutinises the provision of services, the achievement of targets and the provision of resources to assist in creating positive outcomes for the children and young people of Milton Keynes so that they can be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing.

Children and Young People Committee - meeting dates, documents and membership.

Health and Adult Social Care Committee

Scrutinises the provision of health and adult social care services in Milton Keynes, the achievement of targets and the provision of resources to help improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Milton Keynes.

Health and Adult Social Care Committee - meeting dates, documents and membership.

Task and Finish Groups

Task and Finish Groups will often be set-up to investigate specific issues that may be of interest or concern to Scrutiny councillors.  A Task and Finish Group will usually consist of between three and six councillors.  The Task and Finish Group will be expected to undertake an in-depth investigation of an issue or topic, calling on the help of internal and external witnesses to provide evidence.

The Task and Finish Group will report back its recommendations to the Scrutiny Management Committee before its findings are presented to Cabinet or the relevant Cabinet Member(s).  These reports can take the form of presentations, oral reports or written documents.  A written final report will be prepared as a record of the work carried out by the Task and Finish Group. Reports or recommendations may lead to the review of a current policy or improvements to the general working practices or procedures of a service(s).  The final report of the Task and Finish Group will usually outline what the group has set out to do, what the key issues were and, most importantly, what course of action, if any, is recommended.

See details of Task and Finish groups including membership, meeting dates and documents.

Get involved

Members of the public are actively encouraged to get involved in meetings of the Scrutiny Committees and the Task and Finish Groups.

You might be invited to attend meetings to provide evidence to councillors on your experiences of a particular service or your views on aspects of a Council policy.

Councillors are always happy to receive suggestions on services or specific issues which you feel should be investigated.  The Scrutiny Management Committee will consider any suggestion put forward and the value a Committee or Task and Finish Group could add by reviewing it.

If you would like to get involved you can fill out an on-line comment form - available on the page 'Speaking at Council Meetings' under Related links. Alternatively you can print a form and send it back to us at the address above.


Last Updated: 25 August 2020