Agenda item

Review of Strategic Housing Service (Agenda item 13)

Report of Elizabeth Gould, Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Planning & Environmental Services presented the report which sought comments upon the proposals to commence formal staff consultation on a proposed restructure of the service.

It was anticipated that through improving structures and processes within the service the customer experience would improve and staffing requirements would be reduced, thus enabling the achievement of the relevant financial objective.

If Members’ were mindful to approve the implementation of the consultation process, a further report would be brought to Cabinet following consideration by the Local Joint Consultative Committee and the General Purposes Committee.

The proposal, issues and the risks were highlighted.

The Interim Housing Manager explained that there had been a degree of discussion with affected staff and redundancy costs would be taken from the Organisational Development Reserve.

The Executive Member for Internal Services drew attention to the introduction of the report and asked why the significant ‘waste’ within processes had not been captured in performance management.  He asked if something could be built into this process in future.  He also asked if assurance could be given that the new structure would be able to cope with the likely increase in demand for housing.  The Interim Housing Manager advised that this concern had already been considered and had been built into the proposals.  However, in the longer term, there could be a need to draw on additional resources but based on the current model/service he had not wanted to build a structure with slack built in.

In response to a question, it was noted that there would be no savings made in year one.  In response to a further question about the replacement of Breckland’s Lagan expert, Members were informed that the Business Development Manager and the IT Manager were looking to rebuild that capacity as soon as possible, in the interim some existing Officers would be trained.

The Executive Member for Internal Services had noticed within the new structure that a team would be set up to take calls and asked why the Contact Centre could not be utilised.  The Interim Housing Manager explained that this new team would cut out delays and avoid repetition and ultimately produce a more effective system.  Customers expected to speak to someone who could resolve their needs without being passed from pillar to post, and a certain degree of specialist knowledge was required to deal with the nature of housing enquiries that the Contact Centre could not provide.

Following further discussion, it was agreed that the Housing Service needed to be kept under constant review.

Options

1)     Not to endorse formal staff consultation on the proposed restructure.  This would severely restrict the ability of the Housing Manager to deliver sustainable efficiency savings and improve value for money.

2)     To endorse the formal staff consultation.  It is possible that the consultation will lead to an alternative structure being developed; and the proposals developed following the consultation will be taken to both Cabinet and Full Council for final approval prior to implementation.

 

Reasons

 

The recommendation was in line with the spirit and letter of the Council’s redundancy policy.

 

RESOLVED that the formal consultation commence with relevant employees concerning a proposed restructure of the service.