The scrutiny panels have the following functions to make sure the executive is held to account:
- policy reviews of council services and issues
- one-off reviews of issues
- scrutiny of key Council documents such as the budget, Business Plan and the Best Value Performance Plan
- call-in (request) by three non-executive councillors to review Cabinet decisions
- performance panagement: monitoring the performance of the council and its partners in delivering upon its strategic priorities and the national indicators and Local Improvement Targets in the Local Area Agreement.
Issues considered by scrutiny should:
- affect people living within the Merton area, or
- relate to a service, event or issue in which the council has a significant stake or over which the council has an influence
Scrutiny panels can't look at individual complaints or look at issues dealt with by another council committee (for example planning or licensing), unless they refer to procedure.
List of panels and responsibilities
Overview and scrutiny at Merton consists of three scrutiny panels and the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.
Each panel meets at least six times a year.
Overview and Scrutiny Commission
The Overview and Scrutiny Commission is responsible for co-ordinating, reviewing and developing the overview and scrutiny panels, and is also responsible for scrutinising:
- crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour
- community leadership, community cohesion, public involvement and consultation
- the council's internal services like IT and human resources
- financial monitoring and the council's budget
- cross-cutting and strategic matters
The commission also considers issues relating to the Safer and Stronger Communities, Community Plan and Business Plan.
Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel
This Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel is responsible for scrutinising:
- children's social care
- child protection
- youth services and youth engagement
- youth offending
- children's centres
- The Children's Trust
The panel is required by to include a number of statutory co-optees when dealing with education matters:
- one Church of England diocesan representative
- one Roman Catholic diocesan representative
- two parent governors
These representatives can vote only on matters concerning the duties and functions of the council as a Local Education Authority.
Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel
This Healthier Communities and Older People Overview and Scrutiny Panel is responsible for scrutinising:
- performance of local health and adult social care services
- general health issues including the promotion of good health and healthy lifestyles, mental health and reducing health inequalities
- access to care and health services
Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel
This Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel is responsible for scrutinising:
- environmental sustainability
- enterprise and skills
- leisure and libraries