Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Una Sullivan, Democratic & Electoral Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1785 E-mail:  una.sullivan@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

136.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that there were no Reserve Members in attendance.

The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting, and thanked the Forum for agreeing to the later start of the meeting in order to allow Members to attend the Holocaust Memorial event, which had taken place earlier in the evening.  He announced that in view of the late start, the meeting would adjourn following consideration of Agenda Item 7.

137.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Forum;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the following interests were declared:

 

All Agenda Items

 

Councillor Bob Currie declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a former member of Unison.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Graham Henson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of the Communication Workers Union, and had a cousin who worked for the Council.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.  He had also served as the Portfolio Holder with responsibility for health and safety matters.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

 

Agenda Items 9 and 10 – Employees’ Side Report on Negotiating an Amendment to the Modernising Collective Agreement Redundancy Section in the Protraction of Processing Voluntary Redundancy Requests and Inconsistent Treatment of Staff; and Management Response

 

During the meeting, Councillor Graham Henson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he had been involved in the negotiations for the Collective Agreement, and had been the Portfolio Holder when they were agreed.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

138.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Resolved:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 October 2013 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 9 October 2014 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

139.

Public Questions, Petitions and Deputations

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 48 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that no petitions were received, questions put or deputations received.

RESOLVED ITEMS

140.

Information Report - Draft Revenue Budget 2014/15, Medium Term Financial Strategy 2014/15 to 2016/17 and Capital Programme 2014/15 to 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Assurance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received the report of the Director of Finance and Assurance which set out the Council’s proposals for the draft Revenue Budget 2014?15, Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2014?15 to 2016?17 and the draft Capital Programme 2014?15 to 2017?18.

 

The Director of Finance and Assurance informed the Forum that this report had been considered at Cabinet on 12 December 2013, would be brought back to Cabinet on 13 February, and would be taken to Council for decision on 27 February.  He added that some figures contained within the report were now out of date and would be corrected in the light of more up-to-date information.

 

He reminded Members of the continuing economic factors and demographic pressures influencing budget decisions and outlined the following points:

 

·                    Harrow has one of the lowest government grants in London;

 

·                    funding for local government has been reduced while demand for Council services has increased;

 

·                    the budget has been guided by the administration’s corporate priorities;

 

·                    the impact of welfare reform has not been severe as expected, and provision to counter this has been reduced.

 

The Director of Finance and Assurance then provided responses to questions from Employees’ Side representatives.

 

·                    In answer to a query on whether the projected savings identified in Children’s Residential Care took into account the loss of revenue which would result from a reduced service, he explained that the savings were net and had been calculated taking all other factors into account.

 

·                    A representative queried the wording in respect of a Public Realm item on ‘early termination of vehicles’.  It was noted that this was a delayed saving, and that the item could have been better worded to reflect this.

 

·                    In response to a request for clarity on an Environment and Enterprise item, ‘additional transitional management roles’, he explained the background to decisions taken, which had differed to the actions originally agreed, and agreed to provide a written response to Unison members.  It was noted that this issue had been discussed at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee the previous week.

 

·                    In response to a question about what provision the Council would make as a ‘buffer’ for those residents affected by welfare reform, he confirmed that a contingency fund had been identified in advance of the welfare reforms being implemented, but that this had been underspent.  This had not been intended as a permanent measure, and current advice suggested that it would not be necessary in 2014-15.  In his opinion, there were sufficient contingency reserves in place which could be drawn upon without requiring a specific fund.

 

·                    In respect of a planned pay claim by Unison of an increase of £1.20 per hour, he stated that the budget modelling assumed a pay increase of 1%.  It was noted that any pay awards would be negotiated and agreed nationally.

 

·                    He agreed to share a reconciliation table demonstrating the increase in deficit for the municipal year 2016-17.

 

Members then discussed the reconfiguration of the Meals on Wheels  ...  view the full minutes text for item 140.

141.

Information Report - Part 2 of Annual Equality in Employment Report for 1 April 2012 - 31 March 2013 pdf icon PDF 489 KB

Report of the Divisional Director, Human Resources and Development and Shared Services

 

Minutes:

The Forum received the report of the Divisional Director, HR and Shared Services, which was a follow-up to the equalities employment data provided to the Forum in October 2013, and which set out analysis of that data together with an action plan to address the priority issues.

 

The Organisational Development Manager outlined the key findings, including the following:

 

·                    under-representation of certain, defined categories among the workforce, as compared with the local demographic;

 

·                    under-representation of certain, defined categories within higher pay bands;

 

·                    over-representation of BAME staff undergoing conduct procedures;

 

·                    over-representation of staff with disabilities undergoing conduct procedures;

 

·                    the accuracy and completeness of data collected, and in comparison with different surveys;

 

·                    variations in the proportion of appointments from certain, defined categories compared to their proportion of applications;

 

·                    variations in the proportion of successful requests for redeployment.

 

In response to queries about staff undergoing conduct procedures, the Organisational Development Manager confirmed that any staff who had not reached the top tier of their pay grade would suffer financial detriment as a result of receiving warnings.  A Member queried whether the number of warnings could include multiple warnings for an individual, or represented separate instances, but it was not possible to determine this from the figures.  The Organisational Development Manager noted that the number of formal warnings in the year (20) across a workforce of 5.125 employees was not a significant number.  Nevertheless the trend over a number of years was that  the greater proportion of warnings relate to BAME staff.  The Chair gave his view that this greater proportion of BAME staff within this category was a matter of concern and should be investigated.

 

The Forum then considered issues in relation to training and asked for clarification as to what was included in the definition, and whether the figures quoted represented a true picture and gave genuine cause for concern.  Noting that e-learning was not included, the Chair suggested that all training statistics should be captured, and that the Employment Sub-Group should consider the definition of training.

 

An officer commented that key priorities had been integrated within a single Corporate Plan, and that many activities would address multiple issues, for instance, actions in respect of recruitment could improve the under-representation of more than one group.  However, she advised that current low levels of recruitment would limit the scope for improvement.  The Chair suggested that HR officers consider the timelines for actions and prioritise tasks in line with key priorities.

 

The Forum also considered the proportion of staff with disabilities among the numbers undergoing capability procedures, and whether sufficient support was in place for the individuals concerned.  It was noted that disability figures were likely to increase with an ageing workforce, although this alone did not explain the discrepancy between disclosure of disability at recruitment stage and figures captured as a result of different procedures or surveys.

 

The Forum discussed possible reasons for the discrepancies in reporting disabilities, and the conflicting needs of the organisation to be aware and pro?active when addressing disability  ...  view the full minutes text for item 141.

142.

Employees' Side Report on Negotiating an Amendment to the Modernising Collective Agreement Redundancy section in the Protraction of Processing Voluntary Redundancy requests and Inconsistent Treatment of Staff and Management Response pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Report of Unison

Minutes:

The Forum received a report from Unison, together with the management response, on issues arising from changes to the Council’s redundancy scheme due for implementation on 1 April 2014, and the consistent application of redundancy procedures to employees at all grades.

 

The Vice-Chair introduced the Unison report, and reiterated the request that section 7.3.2 (Redundancy Payments) of the Collective Agreement be suspended and re-negotiated.  He cited examples which he believed demonstrated inconsistency in how redundancy procedures were being applied across staff grades, with apparent preferential treatment being given to staff on senior grades.  He added that his members had little faith in the redeployment process, and reminded the Forum of the Council’s written commitment to fairness for all staff. 

 

He stated that restructures in the Residential Day Service and Meals on Wheels Service had been agreed in 2013, and many lower grade staff would be losing their jobs but would receive less in redundancy payments as implementation had been delayed until after 1 April 2014.

 

The Divisional Director, HR and Shared Services, stated that while redundancy was a corporate matter, an organisational restructure affecting staff was a matter for departmental directorates to determine.  Prior to the introduction of the Collective Agreement, it had been obvious that redundancies would occur both before and after, and that, inevitably, staff would be treated differently according to when a redundancy took place.  In respect of voluntary redundancy, staff at risk were given the necessary information to make an informed decision, but ultimately agreement was at the discretion of the Council.  He did not consider that Unison’s case provided valid grounds for varying the Collective Agreement, but did acknowledge that support for redeployment might not be consistent across all Council departments.  Over 50% of those at risk of redundancy had been redeployed in 2012/13, which was a considerable achievement, but it should be recognised that lower grade staff often had fewer transferable skills, and were therefore more difficult to place.

 

He advised the Forum that agency staff were used to fill a number of vacant posts until decisions were made about budgets and staffing levels.

 

Members considered whether the application of redundancy procedures was consistent across the Council, and whether it was advisable or desirable to vary any part of the Collective Agreement.  They agreed that the agreement should not be re-visited, either wholly or in part, but were concerned that staff should be treated fairly and consistently across the organisation, and suggested that individual cases could be looked at to establish whether disadvantage had occurred.

 

The Chair stated that as a formal request had been received from the Employees’ Side, the matter should be put to the vote.  He reminded Members that, in order for a recommendation to be made to Cabinet, a majority of elected members would have to agree the motion.

 

The Chair read out the Employees’ Side statement, namely:

 

“Unison formally requests that, in accordance with section 6 (Variations to this Agreement), paragraphs 3 and 4 are suspended immediately, and re  ...  view the full minutes text for item 142.

143.

Information Report - Actions Agreed by the Employee Consultative Forum - Employment Sub Group pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Divisional Director, Human Resources and Development and Shared Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received the report of the Divisional Director, HRD and Shared Services, which provided information on actions agreed at Employment Sub?Group meetings.

 

It was noted that, in view of the local elections in May, it was not possible to confirm with certainty attendees and future dates for the Employment Sub?Group meetings.

 

In response to an Employees’ Side query about the number of posts in the Waste Service, the Chair commented that the issue dated from 4 years ago and as the relevant personnel were no longer with the Council the discussion was now closed.

 

The Vice-Chair asked for a response to Unison’s request for evidence that consultation had been undertaken on the Library Service as none had yet been provided.  The Chair asked for clarity on what had been agreed and proposed that the vice-Chair should liaise with the Organisational Development Manager to resolve the matter.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.