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 is Overview and Scrutiny?

All local authorities operating a Cabinet and Scrutiny model have a Cabinet made up of the Leader of the Council and up to nine other members.  All executive decisions (i.e.  those needed to implement the Council Plan and the Budget, which is approved by the Council) are taken by the Cabinet.  More information about the how the Cabinet operates is available on the Cabinet website.

Scrutiny Committees and the smaller Task and Finish Groups are made up of councillors who are not part of the Cabinet.  They are not “decision making” bodies but are there to monitor and influence those that are. 

Therefore the Overview and Scrutiny role is designed to support the work of the Council in the following ways:

Holding the Executive to Account

Scrutiny committees review and scrutinise decisions taken by the Cabinet, sometimes described as acting as a “critical friend”.  They can also challenge decisions made by the Cabinet (Executive Decisions) and will review any decisions which have been called in by councillor colleagues, the public or parish councils.

Monitoring the Council’s Performance

Scrutiny committees receive regular information on how the Council is performing and may choose to scrutinise a particular service area in more detail.

Helping to Develop Policy

Scrutiny committees can contribute to policy development, including scrutinising 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 Committees have the power to consider issues that are important to local people but are the responsibility of other agencies, such as local health services.  Scrutiny committees can request the presence of key partners at its meetings where this 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 work of the Council.  Members of the public are actively encouraged to attend meetings (see below for more details).

Scrutiny Work Programme

The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee agrees the work programme for the scrutiny committees and task and finish groups.  The items will have been prioritised according to their strategic importance and have been consulted on by the officers, councillors and partners.

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

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

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

The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee welcomes suggestions from the public on issues it should consider.

Getting Involved and Attending Meetings

Members of the public are encouraged to get involved in meetings of the scrutiny committees and task and finish groups.  You can find details of how to register to speak on an item at the beginning of each agenda or by e-mailing .

You might be invited to attend meetings to provide evidence to the relevant committee 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 Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee considers submissions from members of the public, requesting the scrutiny of a particular council service, or matter over which the Council has influence.  Written notice of your request must be submitted to the Committee Services Manager no later than eight clear working days before the date of the next meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

Scrutiny Committees

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee

Manages the scrutiny work programme, manages available resources and acts as the Council's statutory scrutiny committee in respect of the Councillor Call for Action.

Undertakes the Council’s statutory role in respect of scrutinising and reviewing crime, community safety, antisocial behaviour and emergency planning.

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Budget and Resources Scrutiny Committee

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

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Children & Young People Scrutiny Committee

Scrutinises the provision of services, the achievement of targets and the provision of resources by the Council and its partners for the children and young people of Milton Keynes and their families.

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee

Scrutinises the provision of health, social care and other adult 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.

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Housing, Planning and Placemaking

Scrutinises the planning and provision of social housing in Milton Keynes and the Council’s role as landlord in providing good quality affordable accommodation for the Council’s tenants.  This includes scrutiny of the planning and implementation of the Council’s Regeneration and Renewal Programme in Milton Keynes, Development Control and strategic planning matters.

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Public Realm and Environment

Scrutinises the Council’s Public Realm Services, including highways, transport, waste collections and disposal, landscaping services and the Council’s green and climate change policies.  It also services as the Council’s statutory scrutiny committee for Flood and Water Risk Management.

Meeting dates, documents and membership.

Task and Finish Groups

Task and Finish Groups (TFGs) will occasionally 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 five councillors.  The TFG 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 TFG will report its draft findings to the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee before its recommendations are presented to Cabinet of 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 TFG.  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 will usually outline what the group has set out to do, what they key issues were and, most importantly, what course of action, if any, is recommended.

Since 2018 Task and Finish Groups have considered and reported on a wide range of topics.  Links to the final reports of each TFG can be found below: