Agenda and draft minutes

Public Services Reform Policy and Accountability Committee
Tuesday, 10th September, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1 (2nd Floor) - Shortlands. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email: david.abbott@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting and note any matters arising.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019 were agreed as a correct record.

2.

Apologies for Absence

To note any apologies for absence or lateness.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Zarar Qayyum.

3.

Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Audit, Pensions and Standards Committee.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

'Our People' Workforce Update pdf icon PDF 833 KB

This item provides an update from the People & Talent department on:

·         Workforce context & measuring success

·         Organisational development

·         Staff survey

·         Get Ahead

·         Apprenticeships

·         Performance Management

Minutes:

Dawn Aunger, Assistant Director of People and Talent, introduced the item and took the Committee through the slides in the agenda.

 

Workforce Context

Dawn Aunger reported that the Council's headcount currently stood at just over 2000 people. She also noted that at previous meetings there had been some concerns about turnover (with very high turnover figures quoted) but the data in the slides showed that turnover was actually decreasing and was projected to be around 12 to 15 percent by the end of the financial year. The national average for organisations was 15 percent. Since being in post, Dawn had worked closely with the Business Intelligence team to ensure her team was receiving high quality, accurate workforce data to enable better decision making.

 

The reported rate of sickness absence was quite low (3.9 days per worker compared to the national average of 4.1) but it was noted that these figures depended on a self-service system with manager oversight so there may be under-reporting.

 

The Council's agency spend was currently high at 23 percent of the total workforce budget. In the last few months there had been a robust piece of work on agency data and robust controls and actions were put in place to start reducing this where appropriate. The team were paying particular attention to agency staff who had been in post for over twelve months and those who were on day rates of £300 and above.

 

Staff survey findings

Dawn Aunger noted that the latest staff survey, using the 'Best Companies' tools highlighted the following five areas for the organisation to focus on:

·         Well being

·         Career development

·         A fairer organisation

·         Physical working conditions

·         Leadership

 

Responding to the staff survey findings

A number of these areas had already been addressed with the move to a more modern office environment, the new 'Get Ahead' career development programme, more staff engagement from senior leaders, and better technology and tools for staff. 'Get Ahead' was a flagship programme to develop talent within H&F and had been a 'massive success story' - 50 internal candidates had been successful recruited through the programme. There was also a substantial learning and development aspect to the programme too - including training opportunities, lunch and learns, and online sessions.

 

Apprenticeships

Dawn Aunger noted that the Council had increased the number of apprenticeships in the organisation to 62 - well above the Government target of 40 - and had plans to increase this further. The Council also now had an Apprenticeship Ambassador and was starting to make the most of the apprenticeship levy - including how it can help the Council tackle workforce planning issues.

 

Workforce management

Dawn Aunger reported that the People and Talent team had a lot of plans to revamp performance management and employee appraisals. The new approach would move away from paper forms and move towards focussing on quality conversations and continuous assessment. As part of this change People & Talent had introduced a manager induction to make it clear what the organisation expects  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Brexit Impact Report pdf icon PDF 211 KB

This paper is adapted from the latest in a series of briefings updating Cabinet Members on the potential impact of Brexit on H&F and the mitigating actions being planned or developed.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Peter Smith, Head of Policy and Strategy, presented a briefing on the potential impact of Brexit on the borough and the mitigating actions being planned or developed. The briefing was one of a series that had been presented to the Council's Senior Leadership Team over the past year. Since publication of the agenda there had been further developments - most notably Parliament passing legislation preventing Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Peter Smith gave an overview of the report.

 

Settled status scheme

The Government had agreed a scheme to safeguard the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. Settled status was open to EU citizens who had been living in the UK for five years. Those who had been in the Country for less than five years could apply for pre-settled status and could apply again for settled status after they had been here for five years. H&F had promoted the settled status scheme through the website and a leaflet drop and would soon be putting up lamppost banners. The Council had also offered a free document verification and scanning service. The Council had received some money from the Government and was using it to pay for two advisors in the Law Centre and H&F Citizen's Advice. It had been estimated that there were 30,000 EU citizens living in the borough and Government had reported that 8300 borough residents had applied for settled status as at the end of June. Government were providing these figures on a quarterly basis.

 

Workforce impact

The major risk for the Council was the impact on its workforce - particularly in the areas of construction & development and social care. Between 11 and 21 percent of the social care workforce was from EU countries. The Council would also be promoting the settled status scheme through the agencies it works with. Across the Council there were around 70 service continuity plans in place and all were regularly updated.

 

Supply chain impact

The Council also faced potential supply chain risks and goods and services risks. The Deputy Leader had recently asked for a briefing note on the potential impact on the Council's food poverty strategy. Another concern was the supply of medicines - the NHS had been stockpiling a three month supply in case of blockages at ports.

 

Funding impact

The amount of direct EU funding received by the Council was low - in the thousands. There was a significant EU grant that came through the ESFA (£2.7m per year) but the Mayor of London had made a commitment to cover that budget up to 2021. The Council had successfully bid for EU funding in the past for specific projects like sustainable drainage systems but the exact figures for those had not been identified yet.

 

Wider economic impact

There was an expectation that there would be inflationary pressures. One percent inflation would add £0.8m per annum to the Council's wage bill which would add significant challenges to an already difficult financial environment.

 

The Chair  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

The Process and Implications of Introducing a Directly Elected Mayor in H&F pdf icon PDF 317 KB

This paper considers a proposal to introduce a new political model in H&F, that of a directly elected mayor. The report sets out what the process would be for introducing a mayor and cabinet model of governance in H&F, in place of the current leader and cabinet model, and what the cost and implications of introducing that model of governance might be.

Minutes:

Peter Smith, Head of Policy and Strategy, presented the paper on a proposal to introduce a directly elected mayor in the borough. The report set out what the process would be for introducing a mayor and cabinet model of governance in H&F, in place of the current leader and cabinet model, and what the cost and implications of introducing that model of governance might be.

 

The Chair noted that Greg Hands MP had been invited to the meeting in order to present the case for the change, as the leading proponent of the campaign for a directly elected mayor in the borough but had declined the invitation.

 

Peter Smith explained that the request for this report had been triggered by a local campaign, 'Say Yes to HF Mayor', to have a directly elected mayor in Hammersmith and Fulham. A petition to compel the Council to hold a referendum to decide the issue was launched on 26 June 2019. If the number of valid signatures reaches 6,313 (5 percent of the local electorate) then a referendum will take place.

 

Officers estimated the cost of holding a referendum and a stand-alone election at £740,000. A breakdown of this cost had not been available as the relevant officer was away, but it was agreed that it would be sent to the Chair.

 

ACTION: Peter Smith

 

The Chair noted the numerous pieces of legislation on transferring from a leader and cabinet model, to a directly elected mayoral model. He then asked for clarification that this change could have been made at any time since 2007 without a referendum by a decision of the Council. Peter Smith agreed that this was correct.

 

On the role of councillors, Peter Smith explained that although the committees that exist to scrutinise council decisions would continue to operate in the same way, councillors would have less power to hold the directly elected mayor to account. A council leader can be changed at any point in the four year term through a majority vote of councillors, but a directly elected mayor could only be removed through an election every four years. Similarly, important decisions like budgets can be rejected by a simple majority under the leader and cabinet system, but would require a two thirds majority to block these proposals under a directly elected mayor.

 

Councillor Christabel Cooper asked what would happen if a directly elected Mayor was elected without a majority of Councillors from the same party - couldn't a majority of Councillors block the Mayor's decisions? Officers explained that at a Full Council meeting, the Mayor could be outvoted with a two thirds majority of Councillors. However, this only applied to certain very high level decisions - a Mayor would have significant day-to-day decision making powers similar to the current Leader of the Council.

 

Councillor Cooper asked what happens if the Mayor of a minority party couldn't set a budget. Officers said there was a legal requirement on the Council to set a budget. If the Mayor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.