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Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010: Section 112(1): Guidance on Duty of User Focus for Listed Scrutiny Authorities

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1 - INTRODUCTION

1.1 Section 112 of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (the Act) requires scrutiny authorities listed in schedule 19 of the Act ("listed authorities") to make arrangements which: (a) secure continuous improvement in user focus in the exercise of their scrutiny functions and (b) demonstrate that improvement.

1.2 In fulfilling this duty, section 113 of the Act makes provision for listed authorities to have regard to the following guidance provided by the Scottish Ministers. Arrangements made to enable fulfilment of the duty should have regard to the five principles of scrutiny described in the Annex A to this guidance, namely: public focus, independence, proportionality, transparency and accountability.

1.3 The guidance provides a framework approach to help listed authorities comply with the duty of user focus - recognising that authorities will need to apply the framework in a way which is appropriate to their specific kinds of users. A shared framework will, however, encourage more consistent approaches and build on the good practice already in place in many of the listed authorities.

1.4 In fulfilling the duty listed authorities must also have regard to "proper arrangements" for the purposes of section 112(1). These "proper arrangements" may be by reference to a generally recognised published code or otherwise - for example an organisation's own codes of practice on user focus or professional codes or sectoral guidance on best practice which encourage user focus. If there is a conflict between this guidance and these proper arrangements, this guidance prevails.

1.5 The duty is intended to ensure that there is greater involvement of users in scrutiny to improve the targeting of scrutiny and contribute to its increased effectiveness, efficiency and relevance. This will contribute to user-driven improvement of services. Further detail on the intended benefits of fulfilling this duty is provided at Annex B.

1.6 In this guidance, scrutiny includes:

(a) "regulation": meaning the provision of a permit to carry out regulated activity, enforcement of legislation and regulations, monitoring the quality of services provided and, if the context requires, may include elements of service inspection and other activity designed to drive up quality and/or enforce standards; and related activity;

(b) "audit": meaning the external scrutiny of corporate governance and management; financial statements and underlying financial systems; and performance, performance management and reporting of public authorities; and related activity; and

(c) "inspection": meaning the targeted scrutiny of specific services to check whether they meet national and local performance standards, legislative and professional requirements, and the needs of service users; and related activity.