Agenda item

Planning Services - Recruitment and Retention of Staff

See report (Agenda Item 19) to Cabinet on 6 October 2015

 

RECOMMENDED BY THE CABINET

 

That the revised pay levels set out in the table in paragraph 5.2 of the report as revised and circulated at the meeting take effect from 1 January 2016 based on market supplements for professional planning staff to be funded by virement in 2015/16 and from base budget in future years.

Minutes:

In the absence of Mrs Taylor, Mr Dignum (Leader of the Council), seconded by Mr Hayes, moved the recommendation of the Cabinet.

 

He pointed out that the Council had just approved one set of market supplements to pay, in order to address difficulties in recruitment and retention. A similar position applied in the Planning service, which was one of the Council’s most visible services, not only in the processing of planning applications but in the implementation and enforcement of planning regulations to ensure that Chichester District continued to be an attractive and pleasant place to live.

 

With the end of the recession the work load of this service had increased substantially and over the last eighteen months it had been very difficult to recruit and retain planning officers. In the Development Management team alone there had been a turnover of staff of 60%. Recently the service has experienced a number of staff resignations, so increasing the work load on already overstretched planning teams. This had recently been reflected in the performance of the Planning service which hitherto had met its performance targets. Some residents have been expressing dissatisfaction at the length of time that some applications or enforcement matters had been taking.

 

The staff retention problems developed very quickly over the last year as the region and the building industry emerged from the recession, and it was clear that pay levels were the principal cause of the increased turnover.

 

The recruitment problems had also been experienced by the Council’s South Downs National Park (SDNP) team, resulting in lower performance. The contract with the SDNP Authority, which provided considerable income for the Council, was due to be renewed in 2017, and it was essential to show that a high quality service could be delivered.

 

Two benchmark studies had been carried out to compare the Council’s remuneration rates for professional planning staff with those of other authorities.  One was a comparison with the remuneration rates of 14 adjacent or near adjacent authorities and the second was carried out by South East Employers (SEE) which covered 16 authorities in the South East not including London.  Compared to both, Chichester was found to be uncompetitive. It was important that remuneration in Chichester should be more than the average for the region in order to attract experienced and high quality staff.  Therefore, it was proposed that supplements should be paid to those grades as set out in the Cabinet Report, as amended by a revised table circulated to members on 10 December.

 

The total cost of implementing the proposed revised pay levels, including on-costs, would be £170,940 per annum.

 

Mr Shaxson pointed out that other authorities in the South East were experiencing similar problems and there was a risk of them also increasing pay levels. He and other members sought assurance that other options for staff recruitment and retention were being considered, including consideration of housing costs, apprenticeships and training, and the benefits of the pension scheme. The Chief Executive confirmed that a review of pay across the Council was being undertaken. However, each 1% increase in pay cost £180,000, and necessitated a search for savings elsewhere. Other aspects, such as job design and digitisation were also being examined.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the revised pay levels set out in the table in paragraph 5.2 of the Cabinet report, as revised and circulated to members on 10 December 2015, take effect from 1 January 2016 based on market supplements for professional planning staff to be funded by virement in 2015/16 and from base budget in future years.