What is scrutiny?

Scrutiny is the method used by non-executive councillors to evaluate and make recommendations on almost any matter that affects East Sussex residents. It helps make sure the Council is delivering services efficiently and effectively and responds to the needs and opinions of residents and organisations.

The role of scrutiny includes:

  • Holding the executive to account – checking that Cabinet decisions are fair and appropriate for example.
  • Reviewing current policy – carrying out detailed reviews and making recommendations to Cabinet before changes are made.
  • Developing new policy – scrutiny members can get involved with developing new policy, or often the Cabinet will ask them to.
  • External scrutiny – scrutiny members can investigate matters that are outside the direct control of the Council; for example, the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) scrutinises the health service.

Scrutiny committees can question Cabinet members and senior council officers at committee meetings to assess service performance against standards, and recommend improvements.

Each scrutiny committee sets its own work programme and carries out scrutiny investigations throughout the year.


If scrutiny members think a decision by the Cabinet or an individual Cabinet member (at a Lead Member meeting) has been taken incorrectly they can require the Cabinet or the individual Cabinet member to reconsider the matter through a process called call-in.

How to get involved

Scrutiny allows local people to have a say on matters that affect them:

Committee meetings

Some scrutiny committees have co-opted members who represent parents, denominational schools and health services. You can find details of each committee membership:

The committee can ask Cabinet members to attend their meetings – to justify their decisions and how they are being implemented.

They can also invite outside organisations and representative groups to offer views on service or policy issues. This can be to a meeting of the full committee or a task group: a smaller group of councillors who are scrutinising a particular subject.

Equality and Diversity

We always try to make sure that minority and under-represented groups are included when we carry out scrutiny reviews. Scrutiny also uses Equality Impact Assessment reports as important evidence to make sure that equalities considerations are properly taken into account.

Acrobat (PDF)
Scrutiny guide June 17.pdf