PUBLIC QUESTION TIME – agenda item 4 (The Cabinet – 11 December 2013)

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http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/council/board3d/Minutes%20111213.pdf

The following questions were received from members of the public by
the deadline:

1. Nigel Behan, Unite representative

Agenda Item 6 – The Pluss Organisation
Reading from the report on this item Mr Behan said “A condition of the
purchase by Turning Point is the closure of the Local Government
Pension Scheme (LGPS) by the Organisation and the employees will be
offered alternative pension provision.” He asked:

a) “What pension scheme is it envisaged that the employees can
access? (The Cabinet – 11 December 2013)
2
b) Will the pension scheme be broadly comparable?
c) What discussions have taken place with the other Local
Authorities in respect of the pension scheme(s)?
d) Has this type of proposal (re LGPS) occurred elsewhere when
trading with Social Enterprises?”

Mrs Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Health and Well-Being,
responded and said employees will be auto enrolled into the companies
group personal pension scheme (GPPS), full details of this were
available on request. The GPPS was a defined contribution scheme
which offers matching of employee contributions up to 6% and a 4x
salary ‘death in service’ benefit. Pluss had been meeting representatives
of all 4 local authorities on a regular basis for over 12 months to discuss
the proposal to cease membership of the LGPS and all four are
supportive of the compelling business case made by PLUSS with
respect to this proposal which will ensure a sustainable and viable
business going forward. The Council was anecdotally aware of a small
number of admitted bodies of local government pension schemes
ceasing membership of the LGPS. Pluss was consulting with its
recognised trade unions on the proposal to cease membership of the
LGPS. A number of meetings had taken place since October and these
are on-going. Management have held numerous meetings with staff and
a regular question and answer sheet was sent to staff responding to
issues raised through a variety of forums. Mrs Lawrence undertook to
also provide Mr Behan with a written response.

Agenda Item 8 – Corporate Performance Monitoring Report– Quarter 2
2013/14

Referring to the Performance Monitoring Wheel, Mr Behan asked the
following questions:

a) “O2 – Just under 60% of children subject to a Child Protection
Plan had all of their visits on time so far this financial year,
according to the timescales outlined in their plan. This is being
closely monitored by the Children’s Improvement Board.”
When is it expected that the 60% figure will significantly increase?
b) When are the O2, R1, R2 and R3 (“Red”) performance areas
expected to become “Green”?
c) What are the reasons for PB1 “Effective systems, process and
information management” deteriorating performance?
d) PB4-“Staff and members work flexibly and feel empowered” is
currently shown as “Amber” and has an “improving performance”
arrow. What steps and measures are being taken to ensure this
situation improves particularly in the light of possible “changes” to
terms and conditions of employment?

Mrs Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families
responded to question a) and said 92% of visits this year have been on
time. Over recent weeks the percentage of child protection visits taking (The Cabinet – 11 December 2013)
3
place on time had been around 90% (below the 100% target) and the
percentage of children with a CPP at end of October who have had all
their visits on time (according to their plan) since 1st April had dropped to
55% (from 59% end of September). A total of 3637 visits had been
undertaken so far this year for children currently with a CP Plan. Of
these, only 291 visits had been late, meaning 92% of visits were on
time. There are 158 children with 1 or more late visits out of 348 children
with a CP plan. Of those children who had late CP visits, over half (53%)
had only 1 late visit, and 79% had only 1 or 2 late visits. Just over a half
of late visits were only 1 or 2 days late.

With regard to question b) Mrs Nicholson replied and said this
performance would be included within the indicator next year because of
the way it is designed. It was an indicator which always started at 100%
at the beginning of April and could only go downwards if any visit is
missed and there was no possibility of an upward movement during the
year. However, she assured that the process and performance were
improving and would continue to improve.

Mr Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Resources, said that he expected
indicators R1 and R2 to move to amber in Quarter 3 and green in
Quarter 3. He reassured Cabinet of the management actions on risk.

In reply to Mr Behan’s question c), Mr Williams, Business Development
Director, pointed out that although there had been an increase in data
breaches they were mainly a result of human error around procedures
and training was ongoing wherever personal data was handled on a
regular basis. The Information Commissioner’s Office had commended
the Council on how it had responded to two complaints regarding Data
Protection and these had now been closed. Training was being targeted
on those areas of higher risk. There had already been 200 FOI
responses so far this year and many of these questions required a
lengthy response which can be time consuming.

With regard to question d) Mr Flaherty, Deputy Chief Executive,
explained that more staff were being provided with a better working
environment and were given the technology to work either in the office,
on the move or at home. This was an enormous step in flexibility for staff
and members and he was confident this area would become green. He
highlighted that the improvements made should help staff to work more
efficiently which should help deliver a better service. He believed staff
were empowered. Consultation with the unions on the proposals relating
to staff terms and conditions is continuing.

 

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