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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 30/09/2003
FINDINGS OF THE SERVICE REVIEW OF PERSONNEL SERVICES – 2002/03



Summary & Purpose
This report summarises the key issues arising out of the service review of Personnel Services and puts forward for adoption an improvement plan for the service.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive



1. As a support service for the whole of the Council, Personnel has, through its capacity to resource, raise competence levels and encourage productive employee working relationships, a positive but indirect impact on all the issues identified in the graphics above.

E-Government implications:

2. The review findings identify additional ways of using IT in delivering Personnel services as set out in the Improvement Plan attached. Also, the service will play a support role in ensuring that the people implications of e-government in general are dealt with in a timely and effective way.

Resource and legal implications:

3. The scoping report that heralded the beginning of the review period, ventured the view that Personnel was staffed at the minimum level. The review has identified a need to add to the resources if the service is to keep pace with the needs of the Council and members, corporate senior management, other managers and staff as well as keep on top of the impact of new employment legislation.

4. The resource implications and proposals for (part) funding them are included in the action plan and addressed elsewhere in this report.
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Background

5. This review is a ‘Year 3’ review under the Council’s five year programme of ‘Best Value’ reviews, carried out under the requirements of the Local Government Act 1999.

6. A scoping report for this review was agreed, following consideration by the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 21st May 2002.

7. From its experience of Year 1 and Year 2 reviews and with changing Government direction regarding generating an improvement culture in local authorities (the introduction of Comprehensive Performance Assessment), the Council’s wish was for a lighter touch to be given to the Year 3 service reviews. That wish has been met but, nevertheless, the review has been carried out mindful of the Government guidelines to apply the 4 x C’s to service reviews. They are: -

Challenge – is the service necessary; is it necessary to do it in that way it is done.

Compare – how do others deliver the service

Consult – what are the views of service users and other stakeholders as appropriate.

Compete – is fair and open competition used in securing the service.

Processes and Methodology used to conduct the review

General

8. A Fundamental Service Review Group was set up as in previous years but, this time, there was a single Group for all Year 3 service reviews. The role for this Group was to encourage, to support, to monitor progress and to act as a sounding board and information exchange for the services under review.

9. From that Review Group, the Director of Housing was specifically designated as the Independent Chief Officer for the review.

10. The Personnel Team formed into a Service Review Team in which they were joined by a Staff Side representative and, when necessary, the Portfolio Holder for Human Resources and the Independent Chief Officer.

‘Challenge’

11. EP First Saratoga The service participated in a national benchmarking exercise conducted by this specialist private sector company. This exercise was carried out in the period immediately prior to the review but was not repeated during the course of the review, as anticipated. A second round, on a value for money analysis, was considered to have limited ‘added value’. It did provide useful information on how others organised their service.

12. HR Peer Challenge Pilot programme. The service also volunteered for and was selected (as one of six district Councils in the South East Region) for this programme run jointly by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and South East Employers (SEE). From Waverley, a team made up of the Portfolio Holder for HR, the Independent Chief Officer, the Head of Personnel and Central Services and the Principal Personnel and Training Officer met with similar teams from other district councils. The purpose was, in discussion forums, to challenge and to be challenged on the different ways that Personnel Services were delivered.

13. This process required that things focus on the two key issues for each of the authority’s personnel services. For Waverley, these were:-

14. Critical Friend. On a reciprocal arrangement with Spelthorne Borough Council, officers of Waverley are supporting and being supported by Spelthorne Borough Council to help with the service reviews of personnel services.

15. The Excellence Model. The Service Review Team carried out a self-assessment using the European Quality Foundation’s ‘Excellence Model’. This was a helpful trigger to service improvements that the service has been able to implement during the course of the review. However, work on improvements using this model has not developed further as Waverley has not, so far, embraced the use of the ‘Excellence Model’.

Compare

16. The ‘challenge’ initiatives set out above supported the ‘compare’ element of the review.

17. Surrey Personnel Officer Group (SPOG). Data exchange with the County Council and district Councils in Surrey has been the main element of external comparison. Key data from this exercise is shown in Annexe 1.

18. The Service Review Team has also compared the staffing structure of the Personnel Section as at 1989 with the current staffing structure. That year was chosen as the year in which Waverley moved from national to local pay and conditions of service. Managing these issues locally has required more input from the Personnel function. The comparison, together with comments on why things have changed, is shown in Annexe 2.

19. Also in that annexe is an indicative summary of how the activity of the Personnel Section has changed in that time.

Consult

20. Staff Survey. A survey to seek the views of Waverley staff on the Personnel services that they experience was carried out by external consultants, Surrey Social and Market Research (SSMR) a commercial arm of Surrey University. The findings of that survey are summarised in a report prepared by SSMR that is available for reference in the Members’ Room. A further analysis of the detail findings of that report has been carried out by another external consultant from an organisation called the Solutions Team. The report of that consultant is also available for reference and it is that report which has been the main source of the Improvement Plan for the Personnel Service.

Compete

21. This is invariably the most challenging of the 4 x C’s under the Best Value Regime. The minimum staffing levels in the Personnel Section and the limited availability of external support has meant that the capacity for research has been limited.

22. Much of the Personnel budget is spent externally – a recruitment advertising agency, recruitment advertising, just about all of the training budget and specialist services such as Private Health Care provision make up the main elements of expenditure.

23. The service has, during the course of the review period, experience of buying in consultant trainers at (at the top end) the rate of 1,000 per day. Also, to fill a temporary gap in staffing in the Personnel Section, an ‘interim manager’ service has been used. The normal rate quoted was 450 a day, although the services bought in by Waverley have been at the rate of 350 a day.

24. The service is also part of a Surrey-wide public sector partnership that, with a private sector provider, has developed and launched a public sector e-recruitment portal for Surrey. Optimistically, that is a more competitive way of advertising job vacancies but it will be some time before e-recruitment replaces existing methods of recruitment advertising. In the meantime, although it has improved the level of interest in Waverley vacancies, it represents, for the time being, an additional cost and some duplication of effort.

25. The conclusion has been that, whereas there is a reasonable balance of direct and brought-in service provision, it is possible to both make savings and to improve service provision by directly employing a Training Officer to run a range of essential training courses, for staff and Members, that apply across all of the Council’s services. Programmes such as Handling Aggression, Equal Opportunity Awareness, Health and Safety, Appraisal Training etc. which are to meet on-going needs have all required the buying in of external trainers. Although there is competence ‘in-house’, there is not sufficient resource.

Improvements

26. The Personnel Team has implemented certain service improvements, as they have been identified during the progress of the review. These are mainly related to process and have required no variation in resources or policy. They are summarised in Annexe 3 to this report.

27. More fundamental is that five main target areas have emerged from the process of the review which are the subject of the Personnel Service Improvement Plan.

They are:

Target 1 To bring accessibility of the service up to an acceptable level

Target 2 To seek to avoid duplication of effort and to streamline access to data

Target 3 To develop and enhance the strategic input of Personnel into the cultural and organisational development of Waverley

Target 4 To enhance the added value of staff training and development in Waverley

Target 5 To resource the Personnel Section to enable delivery of targets 1 to 4


28. These targets are amplified in the Improvement Plan for the service that is contained at Annexe 4 to this report.

Recommendation
It is recommended that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee endorses the proposed Improvement Plan for Personnel Services and forwards any observations to the Executive meeting on 30th September 2003.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387
E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk


Comms/exec/03-04/264