Joint Committee on Shared Services – 4 December 2015
Chairman: Councillor Baroness Liz Redfern
Venue: Function Room1, Civic Centre, Scunthorpe
Time: 1.30 pm
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 28 October, 2015.
3. Shared Services – Progress Report – Report by the Shared Services Board.
4. ICT Shared Service – Report by the Shared Services Board.
5. Legal Shared Service – Report by the Shared Services Board.
6. Human Resources Shared Service – Report by the Shared Services Board.
7. Local Taxation and Benefits Shared Service – Three Year Review 2012/2015 – Report by the Shared Services Board.
8. Naming of the Shared Service – Report by the Shared Services Board.
9. Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent by reason of special circumstances which must be specified.
PRESENT:- Baroness Councillor Redfern in the chair.
Councillors Hannigan, Patrick, Walker and Waltham.
Sally Jack, Helen Manderson, Mike Wedgewood and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.
9. 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.
10. MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 28 October 2015 having been circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.
11. (5) SHARED SERVICES – PROGRESS REPORT – With reference to minute 5, the Shared Services Board submitted a report detailing progress on the shared services programme between North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.
A programme plan of actions had been developed to implement shared services between the two councils for Information Technology, Accountancy, Internal Audit, Human Resources and Legal Services. Each of the workstreams referred to above had produced business plans that set out in detail how they would deliver the shared service in their service area. Governance of the project had been via a fortnightly programme board (made up of senior officers from each council) and monthly workstream sub boards composed of managers (workstream leaders) from each council for each of the five services. Oversight of the development had been via the relevant cabinet member at each council.
A joint committee of the two councils had now been set up and had met for the first time on 28 October 2015. The committee would oversee the implementation of the shared service programme to April 2016 and subsequently meet on a quarterly basis to guide strategy, ensure achievement and provide direction for the shared services. Progress against the overall programme plan had been closely monitored by the programme manager and programme board throughout using standard programme management techniques. A number of reports planned to be considered by the committee according to the forward plan of actions were also considered at this meeting and the project remained on track for implementation on 1 April 2016.
The key points and further information arising from each workstream were detailed in the report.
The report also contained further detailed information including the resource implications involved in the shared services programme.
Resolved – That the joint committee note the progress made against the shared service programme plan and savings projections, and notes that the project remains on target for implementation on 1 April 2016.
12. (6) ICT SHARED SERVICE – A report was submitted by the Shared Services Board which considered the proposed structure for the ICT shared service between North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.
The report referred to the shared back office services initiative between the two councils which had grown out of the need to provide efficient and effective support services at minimum cost in order to protect front line services to local people in North Lincolnshire. Arising from that work the report now submitted set out the proposed structure for the ICT element of that shared service for the joint committee to consider.
The report detailed the current responsibilities for the ICT teams at both councils in paragraph 2.4 and indicated that the functions were both led by suitably qualified and experienced ICT heads, reporting to their respective Assistant Directors.
Paragraph 2.6 of the report set out the vision of the ICT shared service in some detail and appendix A to the report set out a proposed structure for the service. As indicated in the business case, the service would be led by the ICT shared service Group Manager responsible for the overall direction of the service, with a key focus on strategy and business functions. This position would be supported by the Head of ICT Services (Delivery) with responsibility for the delivery of critical operational, technical and customer function. This role would also be the Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) for North Lincolnshire Council. Below this the service would be structured as four teams each with a strategic lead namely –
- ICT Strategy and Governance.
- ICT Transformation.
- ICT Business Systems and Support.
- ICT Communications and Facilities.
Staff would remain on their current terms and conditions and would continue to be employed by their current employer. However, staff would be expected to be agile and prepared to travel between North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council, although the extent of the travel required would vary depending on the nature of the post.
The proposed structure sought to rationalise the current eleven management level posts (NELC six Posts and NLC five Posts) to a joint SMT comprising six posts: the ICT Shared Services Group Manager, Head of ICT Services (Delivery) and four strategic leads as detailed above. Each strategic lead would have a defined team with appropriate staffing levels, including specialists providing expert knowledge and direction. Details of these were contained within the report. The report also contained further information including the resource implications involved.
Resolved – That the joint committee approve the ICT structure as detailed in the report and in appendix A.
13. (7) LEGAL SHARED SERVICES – The Shared Services Board submitted a report updating the joint committee on progress with the legal services workstream against the business case agreed for that workstream and to set out the next steps.
The business case sets out at paragraph 16 under “delivery of the shared service project” for the period September 2015 to December 2016, a number of items against which progress was reported. Good practical progress had been made in sharing resources across both functions with options existing to build on these successes. In addition, the savings target attributed to the Legal Shared Service was on track and staff at both councils had been consulted on the business case.
The key points from the business case referred to above were as follows –
- Appointment of an Interim Practice Manager to co-ordinate delivery and progress for the shared service across both councils.
- Assessment of and maximisation of the IKEN case management system used by both councils.
- Rationalisation of library and subscription resources.
- Development of common practice standards and procedures.
- Arrangement of operational practice meetings on a quarterly basis between relevant principal lawyers from both councils.
Against these items progress was detailed in paragraph 2.2 of the report.
The savings target attributed to the legal workstream of the shared services project was £40,000 per annum shared across both North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council with effect from 1 April 2016. This was in addition to the savings detailed within the report which would be delivered in accordance with the options provided. In practical terms, a significant amount of resource sharing had taken place, notably in child care but also in property and land charges and in respect of the interim practice management arrangements set out within the report. Previous sharing of a high level planning legal resource had been successful and it was planned to re-implement a similar system, following changes in personnel and subject to consultation with stakeholders.
The report also made reference to the Ministry of Justice consultation on the proposed closure of courts which could potentially impact on all three courts in Scunthorpe. That consultation did not include courts based in North East Lincolnshire. In the event of the closure of the courts in Scunthorpe, accommodation and practical solutions would be required to minimise travel and waiting time for staff based in Scunthorpe who were required to attend court in Grimsby.
Building on the successes within this workstream to date it was proposed to move beyond the items set out in the business case for September 2015 to December 2016 by placing existing arrangements on a formal footing. It would be necessary to consult with staff, clients and stakeholders to implement this. To support this, North Lincolnshire Council would put in place its own internal practice management resources and both council’s Monitoring Officers would undertake a review of key operational practice areas to inform consultation on movement to the more formal footing proposed. Initial assessment indicated a number of key practice areas which might benefit from practice leads being identified to lead on across both units namely, child care, commercial/procurement, coroners, planning/regulatory, property/local land charges, employment, litigation and adult social care. This review would be reported by 31 January 2016.
Placing arrangements on a more formal footing required clarification of fees and charges between the functions for work carried out by one authority for the other. An option for consideration would be to create an agreed internal rate and netting off monthly.
Noting the options referred to above and within the report, it was nevertheless considered an option to accelerate this progress and move to implement the model set out in paragraphs 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3 of the report. The success factors set out in paragraph 13 of the business case would then be reported against the review proposed above. The plan to appoint a Head of Legal Services to manage the joint unit by 1 April 2017 would continue subject to consultation.
The report contained further information in relation to this matter.
Resolved – (a) That the joint committee approve the principle of accelerating the business case and moving to a more formal arrangement, subject to necessary consultations; (b) that the joint committee support the implementation of practice management resource by North Lincolnshire Council; (c) that both councils Monitoring Officers be requested to undertake a review of key operational practice areas, an appropriate charging and balancing mechanism and investigate income opportunities that could arise from the proposed business case acceleration to be completed by 31 January 2016, for subsequent presentation to the joint committee, and (d) that the joint committee support both Monitoring Officers working together to resolve securing a planning lead across both functions by 31 January 2016, subject to appropriate consultations.
14. (8) HUMAN RESOURCES SHARED SERVICE – The Shared Services Board submitted a report which considered the proposed structure for the Human Resources (HR) shared service between North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council.
Following the decision to proceed with the implementation of shared services, each of the services identified had produced business plans that set out in detail how each service would be structured, how it would deliver the joint service, what investment needs there were, how the target savings would be achieved and how the needs of stakeholders will be met.
The report now submitted set out the proposed structure for the Human Resource shared service for the joint committee to consider. A full copy of the proposed structure was attached as appendix A to the report.
The current responsibilities for the HR Teams at both councils were very similar and details were contained in paragraph 2.4. Currently the North Lincolnshire Council function was led by and the North East Lincolnshire Council function supported by suitably qualified and experienced Assistant Directors of Human Resources. The vision for the new shared HR service was detailed in paragraph 2.6 of the report. The proposed draft structure shown in appendix A and as detailed in the HR Business Case indicated that the service would be led by the Assistant Director Human Resources (North Lincolnshire Council) who would be the HR strategic lead for both councils and would have responsibility for the overall direction of the service. Below this the service would consist of six teams each with a strategic lead as detailed in paragraph 2.7 of the report. Staff would remain on their current terms and conditions and would continue to be employed by their current employer. However, they would be expected to be agile and for some posts there would be a requirement to travel between North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council, although the extent of travel would vary depending on the nature of the post. It was envisaged that further integration to a single Human Resource Advisory Service would take place as the service developed.
The integrated HR Management Team would be led by the current Assistant Director HR (North Lincolnshire Council) with six posts below this, five strategic workforce leads, each with responsibility for the delivery of critical operational, technical and commercial functions and an occupational health and safety manager. The two current HR management teams had a total of nine posts (North East Lincolnshire Council five and North Lincolnshire Council four). Each strategic lead had a defined team with appropriate staffing levels, including specialists to provide expert knowledge and direction. Further details of these were contained in paragraphs 2.9 to 2.13 of the report.
Job descriptions and job profiles had been aligned across both councils and all posts, except that of the Assistant Director, had been evaluated in accordance with each council’s job evaluations process. The outcome of these evaluations had been used in the costing of the proposed structure.
The proposed structure attached to the report had been subject to consultation with staff and trade unions and considered by the Shared Services Programme Board. It represented an efficient and workable structure to deliver these important services to both councils. Saving targets would be met through the implementation of this structure whilst maintaining quality services that would meet the required professional standards. Approval of the structure would enable recruitment to commence to secure the services of qualified and experienced staff and reduce anxiety and provide some certainty to staff on their future employment and working arrangements. The report also contained further details about the staffing implications.
Resolved – That the joint committee approve the HR structure as set out in appendix A to the report, subject to formal evaluation and confirmation of the Assistant Director grade.
15. (9) LOCAL TAXATION AND BENEFITS SHARED SERVICE – THREE YEAR REVIEW2012/2015 – A report was submitted by the Shared Services Board which reviewed the first three years of the Local Taxation and Benefits Shared Service.
The Local Taxation and Benefits Shared Service had been launched in July 2012. In scale it was the most substantial shared service initiative undertaken between North and North East Lincolnshire Councils to date, which already had well established shared procurement arrangements. The business case set high level outcomes including a reduction in operating costs and performance targets, with an objective to increase capacity and resilience in the service. As well as delivering effective integration of two operations with a shared management structure the service faced the challenge of implementing the coalition government’s radical welfare reform programme to tight deadlines.
The Shared Services Officer Board had been established to manage the service though it was not vested with decision making authority. The board’s role had been to make recommendations to decision makers in each council to promote and develop the service. The board was also tasked with providing an annual report to members of both councils covering the performance and financial position of the service.
The three year review 2012/2015 report was attached as an appendix to the report and it provided a summary picture of the achievements of the service over the first three years, including delivering of savings above target. It also outlined current and future developments to build on the success of the first three years to deliver further efficiencies and improvements in performance.
Resolved – That the successful delivery of the Local Taxation and Benefit Shared Service be noted and the lessons learned be applied to the next cohort of shared services planned for 1 April 2016.
16. (10) NAMING OF THE SHARED SERVICE – The Shared Services Board submitted a report which considered the identity and naming of the shared services between North and North East Lincolnshire Council.
The report reminded members that the shared back office service initiative between the two councils had grown out of the need to provide efficient and effective support services at minimum cost in order to protect frontline services to people within Northern Lincolnshire. These arrangements included Information Technology, Accountancy, Internal Audit, Human Resources and Legal Services. They also included Member Development and Training and Graphic Design/Publications.
The report described the ongoing work to implement the shared services arrangements within effect from 1 April 2016 and indicated that the creation of a new name and logo for the whole shared service was an important step towards the integration of both councils services and importantly provided recognition externally and a sense of identity for those staff working within the service. The new shared service name and logo would also provide an identity and a recognisable brand to the “market”, enabling the councils to trade as one entity both nationally and locally and importantly achieve economies of scale in relation to procurement and generate income.
The name “Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect” was proposed for the shared service. Three possible versions of a logo that could be used to promote this identity were attached at appendix 1 to the report. This name and logo reflected the geographical area to which the shared service related, the nature of the services it provided, and embodied the spirit of partnership working which had brought it into being.
The report contained further information in relation to this matter.
Resolved – (a) That the joint committee approves the name “Northern Lincolnshire Business Connect” as the brand name for the shared service and (b) in Appendix 1 as the agreed logo; (b) that the joint committee notes “nnelss.gov.uk” as a common domain name for the shared service, and (c) that a report be submitted to a future meeting on a marketing strategy for the shared service.