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The importance of effective scrutiny is magnified as public services respond to the challenge of the global financial situation whilst continuously seeking to improve services. Effective scrutiny can improve the evidence base for decisions on the allocation of resources as well as ensuring that decisions are transparent and in accordance with the needs of the local community.
In his report the Auditor General states that while councils are actively working to improve scrutiny the outcomes are not always clear, despite significant investment of time and resources in the scrutiny process.
While the report found that there is a clear enthusiasm from councils to learn and improve their approach, it also highlights that councils are struggling to demonstrate the impact of scrutiny. This, together with some lack of clarity around the role scrutiny plays in holding the executive to account, can lead some people to question the importance and value of scrutiny. However, particularly when tough decisions need to be taken, the importance of effective scrutiny should not be underestimated.