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How your council works

The information on this page is a short overview of how Sheffield City Council works.  The council currently uses a Leader and Cabinet model for how it works and is governed.

You can find more information about the cabinet model and other models of governance on our page about the referendum.


We have a Constitution which sets out how we work, how decisions are made and the procedures that are followed to ensure that these are efficient, clear and accountable to local people. The full Constitution and other information about how we work can be found on our main site and the democracy site

Who are councillors?  

  • Sheffield is divided into 28 electoral wards – each is represented by 3 councillors, they are elected in local elections and are also known as elected members. 
  • There are 84 Councillors with one-third elected three years in four. There is no regular election in the fourth year. Councillors are democratically accountable to the residents of their Ward. The main duty of Councillors is to the whole city, but they have a special duty to the people in their ward, including those who did not vote for them.
  • Councillors agree to follow a Code of Conduct to ensure high standards in the way they take on their duties.

What do councillors do at the Council?

  • All Councillors meet together as the Council.
  • Meetings of the Council are normally open to the public.
  • At Council meetings, councillors decide the Council’s overall policies and set the budget each year.
  • The Council chooses the Leader and at its Annual Meeting will select Councillors to serve on its Committees. It also chooses representatives to serve on joint bodies and external organisations.

How decisions are made

The Executive is the part of the Council that is responsible for most day-to-day decisions. The Executive is made up of:

  • the Leader
  • Cabinet Members and Cabinet
  • Some decisions are delegated to officers (SCC staff) or other bodies

What is the cabinet?

  • Council leader
  • Up to 9 other councillors chosen as Executive Members by the Leader
  • Cabinet members lead on specific areas in the Council, one of them is also Deputy Leader:
    • Children and families
    • Finance, resources and governance
    • Business and investment
    • Transport and development
    • Environment, Streetscene and climate change
    • Culture, parks and leisure
    • Health and social care
    • Neighbourhoods and community safety

Council decisions

When key decisions are to be discussed or made, they are published in the Cabinet’s Forward Plan whenever this is possible. If major decisions are discussed with Council officers at a meeting of the Cabinet, this will generally be open for the public to attend except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed.

What guides how decisions are made?

The Leader and Cabinet have to make their decisions in line with the Council’s overall policies and budget. If they wish to make a decision that is outside the budget or policy framework, this must normally be taken to the Council as a whole to decide.

Who makes sure the work of the Council is being done as it should be?

This is the role of scrutiny and is undertaken by committees that are known as scrutiny and policy development committees working across the whole Council. They allow citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public inquiries into matters of local concern and looking at decisions made by the Executive.

What do scrutiny and development committees do?

  • Lead reports and recommendations advising the Leader, Cabinet and the Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.
  • Monitor executive decisions.
  • ‘Call-in’ Executive decisions before they are put into place (ask for decisions to be looked at again) to consider whether the decision is appropriate. They may recommend that decision is reconsidered.
  • Can be consulted by the Leader, Cabinet or the Council on upcoming decisions and the development of policy.

Regulatory Committees

Decisions about planning and licensing matters are dealt with by separate Committees. In Sheffield, this is the Planning and Highways Committee and Licensing Committee. There is also an Audit and Standards Committee which oversees the financial affairs of the Council and corporate governance and works to make sure there are high standards of conduct for members of the Council.

The Council’s Staff

The Council has people working for it (called ‘Officers’). Officers have a number of jobs and roles working alongside Councillors:

  • to give advice
  • put Council decisions into place
  • manage the day-to-day delivery of its services

Some Officers have a specific duty to ensure that the Council acts within the law and uses its resources wisely. A Code of Practice governs the relationships between Officers and Members of the Council.

Your rights as a citizen of Sheffield

As a citizen you have a number of rights in your dealings with the Council. Some of these are legal rights, whilst others depend on the Council’s own processes. The local Citizens’ Advice Bureau can advise on individuals’ legal rights.

Where members of the public use specific Council services, for example as a parent of a school pupil or as a Council tenant, they have additional rights.

The Council welcomes participation by its citizens in its work. For further information on your rights as a citizen, please contact the First Point Reception at Howden House, Union Street, Sheffield.