Joint Committee on Shared Services – 4 March 2016
1. Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Personal or Personal and Prejudicial Interests.
2. To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the joint committee held on 15 January, 2016.
3. Shared Services – Progress Report – Report by the Shared Services Board.
4. Future Delivery of Local Taxation and Benefits Services in North and North East Lincolnshire – Report by the Shared Services Board
5. Any other items which the chairman decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.
PRESENT: Councillor Baroness Redfern in the chair.
Councillors Hannigan, Patrick, C Sherwood and Watson.
Sally Jack, Helen Manderson, Helen Rowe, Janet Stopper, Mike Wedgewood, and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.
23 (15) DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests, personal or personal and prejudicial interests made at the meeting.
24 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 15 January 2016, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chairman.
25 (16) SHARED SERVICES – PROGRESS REPORT – With reference to minute 19, the Shared Services Board submitted a report detailing progress on the shared services programme between North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.
The report indicated that good progress had been made by the five workstreams who will form shared services on 1 April 2016 – Information and Communication Technology, Internal Audit, Human Resources, Finance and Legal Services – against the shared services programme plan to March 2016. New structures in the five workstreams had been agreed and staff had been recruited to all the senior positions and the majority of the posts. A small number of other positions had still to be recruited to but all posts will be filled well in advance of 1 April 2016.
Projected savings for the shared service programme remained on target and formal consultation with staff and trade unions for the Local Taxation and Benefit/Customer Services Review had been completed. Formal consultation with staff and trade unions for the PANNEL Review had started in mid February and a report would be presented to the joint committee in April 2016.
The report contained further detailed information about this matter.
Resolved – That the joint committee note the progress made against the shared service programme plan and savings projections, and that the project remained on target for implementation on 1 April 2016.
26 (17) FUTURE DELIVERY OF LOCAL TAXATION AND BENEFITS SERVICES (LT & B) AND CUSTOMER SERVICES IN NORTH AND NORTH EAST LINCOLNSHIRE – The Shared Services Board submitted a report which considered new staffing structures to support the future delivery of local taxation and benefits and customer services in North and North East Lincolnshire.
Local Taxation and Benefits services in North and North East Lincolnshire are delivered through –
· The LT & B Shared Service back office for both councils.
· Customer and Information Services in North Lincolnshire.
· Communications and Customer in North East Lincolnshire.
LT & B Services involve high volumes of customer contact. Customer Services had delivered frontline LT & B services through face to face interviews on a drop-in basis and telephone service. Staff were trained to deal with and advise on a wide range of routine and more complex enquiries. Shared service back office staff assess and process claims, manage debt recovery and resolve complex case queries. The existing model was resource intensive and had led to inefficiencies. The majority of contact was through the more costly face to face channel and the drop –in model often leads to long waiting times for customers. Specialist staffing resources had been spread across both shared service customer service teams and this had resulted in duplication and unnecessary repeat contact.
All three services faced significant budget challenges and needed to review and re-design services to improve the service for customers and maximise efficiency. The availability of on-line local taxation and benefit forms and changes in legal requirements such as risk based verification also offered scope to transform the delivery of services.
In response to these issues, officers from both councils had worked together to develop a new customer focussed and end to end model for the delivery of LT & B services. The shared services board and the relevant cabinet members in each council had endorsed the business case for the development of a new service model in 2015.
The new delivery model would create a more integrated, customer focussed, digital first service. The key elements of the model are –
· On line LT & B Forms will be the primary method of customer contact, with access to digital assistance/support where needed.
· Telephone as a secondary channel for customer contact and advice.
· Support for more vulnerable customers or those with complex cases through face to face appointments with service specialists.
· Revised/simpler end to end processes.
· Consolidation of specialist staffing resources.
Appendix 1 to the report provided an overview of the new service model.
The functions of services in the new LT & B service delivery model had been re-defined and were detailed in paragraph 2.8 of the report. Elements of the new model were already in place and bespoke on-line forms had been introduced in May 2015. This had already resulted in decreases in face to face and telephone contacts in both councils.
The report then indicated that a significant reorganisation of staffing resources was now required to further embed the “digital first” approach and fully implement the new LT & B delivery model. Details of what this involved were contained in paragraph 2.10 and officers had considered the level of specialist resources required to deliver the new delivery model. An additional 21 full time equivalent posts would be added to the establishment of the shared service (12 North Lincolnshire and 9 North East Lincolnshire). Frontline customer service staff with appropriate specialist skills from each council would fill these additional posts.
In both councils, customer service staff deliver a frontline LT & B services in the context of their wider customer service remit of function. The proposed structures were being designed to deliver the new service model and improve flexibility and efficiency of the wider service. Key proposed changes were detailed in paragraph 2.12. In total there was a proposed reduction of 17.5 full time equivalent staff from the customer and information services establishment in North Lincolnshire and 12.5 from the communications and customer establishment in North East Lincolnshire Council. Taking into account the additional LT & B shared service posts set out in paragraph 2.12, the changes proposed would result in a total net reduction in establishment staffing of 5.5 full time equivalent in North Lincolnshire and 3.5 full time equivalent in North East Lincolnshire.
Paragraph 2.14 of the report set out how the new service model and structures across all three services would aim to deliver the necessary outcomes in improved customer access and service and improved service efficiency and resilience.
Concurrent reviews of each of the three services involved in the delivery of LT & B services were undertaken using the shared services review protocol. Job descriptions and role profiles had been created or amended to support the new delivery model and grades subsequently confirmed and factored into analysis of cost savings. The proposed structures for all three services were detailed in appendix 2 to the report.
The report contained further detailed information including resource implications.
Resolved – (a) That the joint committee approve the proposed structures, posts and grades as set out in the appendices to the report, and (b) that the committee approve the next steps and recruitment necessary to have the new structures in place in each authority for 1 July 2016.