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REVIEW OF SCRUTINY OF PUBLIC SERVICES

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An independent review which will look at how improvements could be made in inspection, regulation, audit and compla...
An independent review which will look at how improvements could be made in inspection, regulation, audit and complaints handling for public services in Scotland, was announced today.

The review, chaired by Lorne Crerar, will complement wider Executive initiatives to reform public services and ensure public money is used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

It will make a range of recommendations to streamline the current system and to ensure the scrutiny regime is delivering improved public services focused on the needs of the people who use them. The review will take account of other work in this area, like the Finance Committee Inquiry into Accountability and Governance.

Minister for finance and public service reform Tom McCabe said:

'The Executive is determined to ensure the delivery of top-quality public services which are focused on the needs of the people who use them. We are undertaking a wide range of work to reform public services in Scotland - including a discussion document which will step up the pace of reform - and this independent review is a crucial part of that work.

'We need a regulatory system which is fit for purpose. Everyone with an interest - particularly the public - should be assured about standards and able to hold providers to account.

'There are concerns about potential duplication and overlap in the scrutiny sector and the burden on service providers. We understand and share those concerns - and that is why we are undertaking this review.

'The work Professor Crerar will undertake will help to ensure all scrutiny is streamlined and proportionate, and that compliance costs for service providers are minimised. The review will report back to ministers in 12 months.'

Professor Crerar said:

'I am very pleased to have been asked to carry out an independent review of scrutiny of public services in Scotland to look at how improvements may be made in areas of inspection, regulation, audit and complaint handling.

'The review represents a daunting but interesting and exciting challenge which I am very much looking forward to. The remit of the review is very wide ranging and I will ensure that it provides meaningful and purposeful recommendations in furtherance of the objectives set by the Executive.'

The review is expected to take approximately 12 months. Professor Crerar is a managing partner in Harper Macleod law firm and, until recently, was convener to the Standards Commission of Scotland, responsible for patrolling ethics in public life.

The review is intended to pave the way for more proportionate and streamlined regulation of public services. The review will be led by an independent chair who will undertake an analysis of the system regulation and scrutiny, including how unnecessary regulation can be minimised or removed. The chair will make recommendations to ministers on:

* The principles and role of effective regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling

* Governance arrangements

* How regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling can better support continuous improvement in public services

* How regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling can be more efficient and better co-ordinated

* The priorities for change in the short, and medium term

* Any legislative or organisational changes that would be required to implement the recommendations

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