9 task groupMedway Council’s Fair Access to Credit Task Group Report has been highly commended in the Good Scrutiny Awards 2013 run by the Centre for Public Scrutiny. The cross-party group was short-listed in the Innovation category for its work to promote financial literacy and affordable lending. The judges thought this review tackling debt and co-ordinated with the national campaign to end legal loan-sharking was an “excellent example of scrutiny having an impact nationally as well as locally”.

The task group’s scrutiny review took place at the time of a national UK cross-party campaign to end legal loan sharking and at a point where Medway had the highest level of debt in Kent and the South East, with 36,000 people per year seeking help from Medway’s Citizens Advice Bureau. The Medway Task Group generated a body of evidence that has arguably influenced the direction of national policy on unaffordable credit and delivered a recommended programme of local action to ensure the Council, together with partners, is doing what it can to promote financial literacy and affordable lending.

Chairman of the task group Cllr Peter Hicks said: “I’m pleased the work of the task group was recognised and short-listed in these prestigious awards. “The work of the group has been acknowledged in the ongoing national debate on the issues it raises, and locally a number of positive actions are making a real difference to some of the most vulnerable communities in Medway.”

The Good Scrutiny Awards celebrate the impact and effectiveness of public scrutiny and accountability in public services. Now in its 6th year, the awards will showcase best practice, innovation, positive outcomes and added value in public services, through the work of non-executives in the public sector and the role they play in representing and supporting local people. The winners were announced on Tuesday, 11 June.

OPINION

This group of councillors seem to be able to let go of the party line and work together, with the good of the community the priority. It is possible that if this group of individuals were put together on other projects we would have similar outcomes. I don’t know, I just chuck it out there as a possibility, anyhow, nice to see everyone playing together like growed ups.

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