Report of Strategic Director, Resources and Digital
The Committee received a report and presentation for the year end performance reporting from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 against each of the 6 policy objectives of the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Balanced Scorecard.
The views of the OSCs which were reported to Cabinet following the 6 monthly position included:
· Prioritisation and Thrive Policy – clearer priorities to achieve Thrive, focus resources to achieve the biggest impact and emphasis on early intervention and reducing longer term demand - LIoN data to be refreshed end 2022 / early 2023 to understand changes post pandemic; Budget approach priority-based transformation review of Thrive and early intervention activity.
· Locality based working – ensuring that the right approach is taken with councillor and community involvement from the outset and recognising that different approaches may be needed in different areas of Gateshead – approach to locality working being developed in collaboration.
· Housing repairs and maintenance – Housing Improvement Plan and timescales for tackling the issues and backlog to meet housing requirements and standards – Review in place to address challenges in delivery impacting on customers.
· Place and Environment – importance of a clean, safe attractive environment to support the health and wellbeing of local people – part of budget approach.
· Climate Change – Clarity on actions and progress the Council is making towards its Climate Change ambition with greater communications with local people – extensive engagement taking place.
· Employees and Workforce – Improvements to employee morale and address recruitment and retention – proposals being developed •
· Other comments also being incorporated into the PMIF i.e. use of dates, new measures, digital/ online presentation being developed, specific areas of focus such as Community Wealth Building, social care, jobs and employment
Some emerging issues which the performance data is telling us is that Covid 19 is having an impact across the Borough in terms of widening inequalities. There is also an impact on the Health and Wellbeing of Residents.
Recruitment and retention issues have been recognised and being addressed it is anticipated that this will improve as the strategy is implemented. The move to digital has continued to accelerate following the pandemic, however it is also recognised that is important to support access for all.
The Committee heard from Alison Dunn who provided an update on Locality Working. The Committee heard that the core elements of Locality Working are about:
· Focussing on the person in need
· How analysis can reveal how other people are affected and influence an individuals predicament
· Creating bespoke solutions
· Communication being key with everyone
· The development of an infrastructure being required to create an area network
· How individual situations can challenge existing services
· A partnership approach
· Working arrangements becoming more flexible
· Tackling barriers being imperative
The Committee heard from the Birtley Hub Manager who presented a case study of someone they helped who probably would not have sought help from Council services direct but using the hub as a “middle man” helped him to get back on his feet and get into shared housing with other issues also sorted for him.
At the moment it is intended that there will be 4 strategic localities roughly mirroring the 4 PCN boundaries. Each locality will have a strategic lead and be responsible for creating a plan in that area. They will understand the area and the issues and will work with the community, community organisations and councillors to develop the plan. It is considered that grass roots organisations can access people better than the council can. It was noted that this will require a different way of working and it will be about localities working it out for themselves. In order for the infrastructure to be in place Council services will need to decide how they want to use their resources.
It is anticipated that this way of working will enable communities to be resilient and that people will take pride in their communities with the voluntary sector providing a buffer between official services. Interviews will be taking place for the Strategic Lead and anchor buildings have been identified for the first area which will be Birtley. The anchor buildings will be Birtley Library, Birtley Hub and Wrekenton Community Centre.
The second area will be piloted will be Chopwell.
The Committee heard from Debbie Worral on the Workforce Strategy, the strategy has been developed, pulling in from the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Thrive agenda. The key themes the strategy will be looking at are Recruitment and Retention of Staff, Lifelong Learning and Development, Well-being, engagement and inclusion, Leadership Behaviours and Performance and Workforce Design. It has been recognised that some of the traditional ways of attracting talent no longer work.
It has also been recognised that with regards to recruitment of trades they are unlikely to go onto North East Jobs.
The Council offers some great benefits already which can be built on. It is about recognising one size doesn’t fit all and at different times in our lives we have different priorities, we have a range of benefits that employees can tap into, including our pension.
It was queried with regards to Locality Working, where does the situation with Housing set in, there are constantly daily queries and people need somewhere to go to when they aren’t getting anywhere. It was queried how people will know about this and when is it going to be up and running.
It was noted that in terms of locality working there will be a lead for repairs and maintenance in each locality. They won’t have to take it to the centre. For the South the recruitment will start in June, it is likely to be September at the earliest. It is anticipate that it will take 12 months to roll out across the borough.
It was suggested that one of the reasons we can’t get tradespeople is that from the 80s apprenticeships for trades when down hill.
In terms of locality working it was queried why we are going back to what we had when it didn’t work? It was noted that the difference is that everyone is looking to work this way now. It was queried whether we found out what the flaws were. It was noted that it was a very expensive way of working and all local authorities moved to a centralised model and whilst this did save money it left communities exposed and fractures started to show. It was noted that is the plan to have specialist people as well as volunteers.
It was suggested that this time the work needs to be from the ground up and there is a concern that this is not implemented with a top down approach. It was noted that the locality plans will be from the ground up. The Strategic lead will work with Councillors, Local Community Groups and anyone in the community to develop the locality plan.
It was queried if we could have a breakdown of the 293 staff who have left and whether it was in particular areas. It was also queried if it was possible to pull together a briefing note on sickness levels.
It was noted that the values are important, but we have problems recruiting carers and they don’t see any career progressions. We tend to also have a lot of silo thinking and during the pandemic there were people moved to the hubs who loved it and now have been moved back to their silos. It was noted that one of the things we are trying to pull together is showcasing progression. It was noted that from a trade point of view there is a clear progression, someone came in as an apprentice and is now a service manager. It was noted that the Council are also working with Gateshead College and the QE Foundation Trust.
It was noted that as Councillors the Committee need to know the statistics and identify where the issues are and what the issues are. It was suggested that we even start to talk to primary schools about potential careers.
RESOLVED - (i) that a briefing note be provided on the undertaking with the Housing Regulator.
(ii) that a briefing note be provided on recruitment and retention, sickness absence and issues re vacancies.
(iii) that the comments of the Committee be noted in relation to the Performance Report.
(iv) that the Performance report be recommended to Cabinet for consideration in July 2022.