The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is the council’s single overarching scrutiny committee. The committee is responsible for scrutinising the whole range of the Council’s functions and responsibilities, as well as other public service providers’ work and its impact on the local community.

The committee holds the statutory responsibilities for health scrutiny and for crime and disorder scrutiny. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee can establish scrutiny ‘commissions’ to undertake reviews of specific matters.

Scrutiny is used to hold public service providers in Lambeth to account and help improve the public services in the area.

Working with citizens and public servants, scrutiny Councillors undertake the following roles:

  1. Monitor, question and investigate the performance of the Council's Cabinet, senior officers and Council services;
  2. Develop, review and make recommendations for the improvement of policy and services;
  3. Hold the Cabinet and officers making decisions on behalf of the Council to account in public; and,
  4. Scrutinise other public service providers’ work and its impact on the local community.

Effective scrutiny improves accountability, ensures transparency of decision-making, contributes to service improvement and acts as a 'check and balance' on decision-makers.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. How scrutiny works at Lambeth

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets, in public, six times per year. The committee can also establish short-term scrutiny 'commissions' to undertake in-depth, single-issue, reviews.

The committee comprises the Chair, three Vice-Chairs and an additional five members for each meeting (the committee’s membership at each meeting will comprise nine Councillors, plus relevant co-opted members).

The committee decides its own work programme. This is based on a range of factors including suggestions made by the public, issues of strategic importance or areas where performance could be improved.

At scrutiny meetings Councillors aim to hear from as wide a range of people as possible. This often includes reports and presentations from the relevant council department and partner organisations and representations from local interest groups or individuals.

As a result of their meetings scrutiny Councillors will often develop recommendations for improvement. Decision-makers (such as the Council's Cabinet or senior officers) are required to respond to any such recommendations.

The rules governing the Council’s scrutiny committees and commissions are set out in the Scrutiny Procedure Rules in Part 3 of the Council's Constitution. The Council set up a new scrutiny structure overseen by a single Overview and Scrutiny Committee in May 2014. Reports for scrutiny committees and commissions prior to this date can be accessed via the link to Expired Committees

2. Scrutiny powers and roles

Scrutiny committees and Councillors have the following powers and roles:

  • To review and/or scrutinise decisions made, or other action taken, in connection with the discharge of any of the council's functions.
  • To summons any member of the Cabinet, the Chief Executive and/or any officer taking delegated decisions to attend before it to explain any particular decision, the extent to which the actions taken implement Council policy and/or their performance.
  • To 'call-in' any decision that results in spending or saving £500,000; or that has a significant impact on an area comprising two or more wards in Lambeth or the quality of service provided to a significant number of people living or working in an area, or communities of interest. Calling-in a decision means that the decision is paused until it has been considered by Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
  • To consider any matter affecting the borough or those who live or work in it.
  • To make reports and/or recommendations to the full Council, the Cabinet, or the Council's partners in connection with the discharge of any functions affecting the area or those who live, work or study in Lambeth.
  • To assist the Council in the setting of the budget by considering and commenting on the strategic priorities for the forthcoming financial year and monitoring the setting of the budget to ensure that it reflects those priorities, once they are agreed.