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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 12 January, 2015

 

Report of the Leader

 

Draft Consultation Response in relation to Welsh Government White Paper - Public Services Staff Commission.

 

Purpose of the Report

 

1. To ask Cabinet to approve a response to the Welsh Government's White Paper on the proposed Public Services Staff Commission.

 

Recommendations

 

1. That Cabinet approve a response to the Welsh Government's White Paper on the proposed Public Services Staff Commission as appended.

 

2. That Cabinet authorises the use of article 13.09 of the Council's constitution (urgent decision procedure) to submit the consultative response to Welsh Government by the end of 13th January 2015.

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

1. To ensure that this Council can contribute its views on the development of a Staff Commission to support the impending local authority merger proposals.

 

2. To ensure that a response is submitted to Welsh Government by the 13th January 2015 and in accordance with the deadlines as set out in the White Paper.

 

Background

 

2. Members will be well aware of the proposed programme of local government reorganisation as set out in the recent Welsh Government (WG) White Paper 'Reforming Local Government'.

 

3. The Council's position in relation to this and the proposed timescales for implementing legislation was set out in the report to Council on the 17 December 2014. Following consideration of the report it was agreed that an Expression of Interest be submitted to WG in respect of a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council.

 

4. Alongside the above the WG has also set out associated proposals to set up an independent non-statutory Public Services Staff Commission. Such proposals are set out in a further White Paper - Public Services Staff Commission (see Appendix A).

 

5. The aim of the Public Services Staff Commission would be to advise Welsh Ministers and public service organisations on the workforce issues that would need resolution as part of a local authority restructuring programme. In addition it would be charged with developing and disseminating good practice as part of the ongoing programme.

 

6. Members will appreciate the complexity of the change process associated with local government reform and particularly given the current and unprecedented financial challenges currently being faced and the need to consider very different forms of service delivery arrangements. Lessons from previous local government reorganisations will be of only limited value.

 

7. Some of the priority workforce issues which the Staff Commission will be required to consider will include:-

• The need to provide advice on the setting up of new organisational design models and service delivery arrangements.

• The need to help new local authorities pursue the harmonisation of terms and conditions and make sense of different job evaluation and pay arrangements.

• The need to provide support in the engagement of staff in the merger process and the setting up of new local councils.

• The need to promote the development of new skills and leadership competencies and wider workforce planning arrangements.

• The provision of advice on the recruitment and retention of staff as well as how to deal with staff displaced within and across Local Authorities before, during and following the mergers.

• The provision of guidance on senior post recruitment and remuneration in conjunction with the specific responsibilities allocated to the Wales Independent Remuneration Panel.

 

8. It is proposed by WG that the Staff Commission will be established on a non-statutory basis by April 2015 in order that it can support any voluntary Local Authority mergers in accordance with the timetable set out in the WG White Paper 'Reforming Local Government'. It will be recalled that the new authorities established following the voluntary merger process are proposed to be set up by May 2018.

 

9. The WG then aim to place the Commission on a statutory basis as a result of the enactment of legislation following the National Assembly elections in May 2016. The statutory Staff Commission would build on the work of the non-statutory Commission and be in a position to support the remainder of the merger process. The earliest the statutory Staff Commission might be in place is the autumn of 2017. 

 

Relevant Issues and Options

 

10. Members will appreciate the complexity of the change process that is associated with any local government reorganisation exercise and the importance of finding practical solutions to the wide ranging array of workforce issues.

 

11. The effectiveness of a Staff Commission will be central to the success of the merger process whether voluntary or otherwise and in this regard it is important that the Council responds to the consultation document. This is particularly so given the Council's Expression of Interest to pursue a voluntary merger with Bridgend Council.

 

12. It will clearly be in Council's interest to inform and support the development of the Staff Commission in order that we can both benefit from its work and also help contribute to the wider public services reform agenda across Wales.

 

13. The White Paper on the Public Services Commission sets out initial proposals on a range of issues including:-

• The public bodies that it is proposed would be covered by the remit of the Staff Commission (see paragraph 49 of the White Paper)

• The approach and relationships of the Staff Commission (see paragraphs 50 - 55 of the White Paper)

• The skills and experience required of Commission Members (see paragraphs 56 to 58 of the White Paper)

• The consultation approach of the Staff Commission (see paragraphs 59 to 62 of the White Paper).

• The links between the Staff Commission and the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (see paragraphs 63 to 65 of the White Paper).

• The priority workforce issues for consideration by the Staff Commission (see paragraphs 66 and 67 of the White Paper).

• The arrangements for transition between the non-statutory and statutory Staff Commission and the respective powers of the members of both commissions (see paragraphs 68 to 73 of the White Paper).

• The future of the Staff Commission beyond the reform programme (see paragraphs 74 to 75 of the White Paper).

 

14. The draft responses to the above issues are set out in the document at Appendix B to this report. The responses have been based on some initial work undertaken by the Human Resource Directors across the 22 Welsh Councils but customised to reflect the circumstances of the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

15. Members will note that the suggested responses are generally supportive of the proposals for the Staff Commission and reflective of the need for such a body.

 

16. Some of the particular comments made in the draft response include:-

• The need to ensure that the Staff Commission works closely with local government and the public sector in the development of the merger process and the wider public services reform programme.

• The preference for the Staff Commission to be established as soon as possible in order to support those council's pursuing a voluntary merger.

• The need to ensure that the complexity of workforce issues associated with the local government merger process is not under-estimated and particularly given the challenging financial context and the wider transformation imperative.

• The need to be a little more specific about the skills and expertise required of Commission members and particularly in order to be able to respond to the complexity of the workforce issues.

• The need to expand the list of priority workforce issues to include, for example the need to deal with staff displaced within and across Local Authorities and the need to commence a journey towards having an 'all Wales' approach to job evaluation and employment policies.

• The preference for the Staff Commission to issue guidance to Welsh Ministers rather than having powers to issue guidance in its own right.

• The need for the Staff Commission to be properly resourced but also to be held to account for its work and contribution.

 

17.    Members are asked to consider and if appropriate support the consultative response document as a basis for submission to WG in accordance with the deadline of the 3th January 2015. 

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

 

18. There are no direct financial implications for the Council arising from this report.

 

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

 

19. There are no direct environmental sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

 

20. The Staff Commission will be established in accordance with section 60 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.

 

21. There will clearly be a range of employment law implications associated with the work of the Staff Commission and particularly in relation to the development of new contractual arrangements, the harmonisation of employment terms and the transfer of employees.

 

Crime and Disorder Implications

 

22. There are no specific crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

 

23. It has been suggested in the consultative response that the appointment of members to the Staff Commission is made through an open and public appointment process rather than by selection by Welsh Ministers. This will aid the transparency of the process and the integrity of the Commission.

 

Corporate/Service Objectives

 

24. The issues set out in this report are congruent with the determination of Council on the 17 December 2014 in relation to the local authority reform agenda and its stated values of delivering good services, transparency, engagement and empowerment.

 

Policy Framework and Budget

 

25. This is a matter for Executive decision.

 

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

 

26. A copy of the consultative response has been shared with the Trade Unions.

 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

 

27. Corporate Resources.

 

Background Papers

 

None.

 

Contact Officer

 

Reuben Bergman, Head of Human Resources

 

Officers Consulted:

 

Corporate Management Team

Employment Lawyer

Operational Manager - Human Resources

  

Responsible Officer: 

 

Sian Davies, Managing Director

 

 

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