ANOTHER layer of scrutiny over the way hundreds of millions of pounds of public money is spent is likely to get the go-ahead within weeks.

Last year the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said Oxfordshire’s six councils would be given £215m between them as part of a Housing and Growth Deal to ensure 100,000 homes are built by 2031.

How and where the money is eventually spent will be decided by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

A representative from each council – five district councils and the county council – gets to vote on any decision making that takes place.

But as a condition of the ‘down payment’ – as the money was referred to by Mr Hammond – the structure of how decisions are examined and then made had to be reviewed.

Caroline Green, the assistant chief executive of Oxford City Council, said that work was currently being undertaken over how extra scrutiny over the Growth Board’s decisions could be carried out from as soon as this month.

She told councillors at a meeting of the city council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday: “What the Housing and Growth Deal committed us to was to reviewing the terms of reference of the Growth Board by the end of April and…that is part of the process going forward.

“I think there’s recognition that with the increased responsibility for significant amounts of programme funding now with the Growth Board that more robust and structured scrutiny arrangements would be advisable.”

Extra scrutiny could come from a cross-council group of councillors from all six councils poring over the Growth Board’s decisions.

But Ms Green said a ‘heavy, duplicative scrutiny arrangement’ which trod over work already done by councils in existing committees should be avoided.

She added a clearer path should be available ‘in the coming weeks’.

Councillor Andrew Gant, who chairs the city council’s scrutiny committee, said Ms Green’s announcement was ‘good news’.

Critics of the Growth Board have previously complained about the way it functions, with some arguing that meetings appear to be a done deal before members sit down for discussions.

They tend to be attended by the councils’ leaders, but former Oxford City Council leader Bob Price – who is also chairman of the Growth Board – currently attends on behalf of that authority.

Of the £215m, £150m will be spent on improving infrastructure.

Another £60m will go on providing affordable housing and £5m will be spent on planning.