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Agenda item

Recovery & Reset Update

(An update on the SMART Working, Third Sector & Vulnerability and Customer Services Offer workstreams from the Assistant Directors, Neighbourhoods, Partnerships and People)


The Chair welcomed the Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods and Recovery & Reset Programme Director, Tina Mustafa, the Assistant Director, People, Zoe Wolicki and the Assistant Director Partnerships, Jo Sands to the meeting to provide an update on the three following workstreams:

1.    SMART Working

2.    Customer Services Offer

3.    Third Sector & Vulnerability


On the SMART Working workstream the Assistant Director, People reported that this was successfully implemented on 1st April 2022, which was the culmination of an extensive project which involved:


1.    A full review of terms and conditions


  1. Agreed the definition of a home, site or hybrid worker and agreed the designation of the staff to those three types of worker:

·         Site based – 37.5% (157 staff)

·         Home based – 41% (172 staff)

·         Hybrid – 21.5% (90 staff)


3.    A summary of agreements reached with the recognised Trade Unions, and then shared with all employees and consultation commenced.  This included 1-2-1 consultation with all staff to implement the new set of terms and conditions and staff designation. 


4.    Devising a rota for 2 days per month team attendance.


5.    Issuing all employees with a new statement of particulars (contract of employment) detailing their designation in advance of 1st April 2022 and detailing changes to their individual terms and conditions of employment.


6.    Providing an appeals process for employees to appeal their designation. 


Following from this, all HR Policies were being reviewed to reflect the new terms and conditions, check for legal compliance and best practice and to ensure the three designations of home, hybrid or site workers were referenced.


It was reported that a six month review was underway which included an ‘All Staff’ Survey which had been issued on 24th November 2022 to obtain feedback from staff on their experience of SMART working.  All feedback from this would be reviewed and help to inform building need / space requirements.


The Committee sought clarifications in the following areas:

1.    The wellbeing and loneliness aspect of working from home, where it was reported that there was an option for home workers to work from site up to 2 days a week, and the Assistant Director assured the Committee that significant work had gone into considering staff wellbeing and support and the 2 days per month team days aimed to support staff wellbeing.

2.    Whether the heating costs being incurred by home workers was a factor being highlighted by staff.  The Assistant Director reported that it was too early to know whether this was the case and that home workers were eligible for a home working allowance which reflected the HMRC allowance (when working from home due to COVID).  It was agreed that the home working allowance, which was part of the SMART working policy would be circulated to members. 


On the Customer Services Offer workstream the Assistant Director, People reported that a face to face service had continued through the Tamworth Information Centre at the Assembly Rooms which enabled the Council to provide direct advice, signposting to Council services and voluntary sector services and to book face to face appointments where necessary.  It was reported that the signage at Marmion House had been improved. It was reported that demand from residents was very low.  


The Council was able to identify demand hotspots for example when letters regarding council tax had been issued which in turn enabled the Council to ensure staffing levels were right.


The Council continued to assist customers through a range of channels, which in the last year included:

68,000 phone calls

19,000 emails

13,000 web chats


The Council’s digital offer continued to be developed including the customer portals: My Tamworth and My Housing, and as sign ups to these portals increased, there had been reduction in the number of webchats. It was highlighted that My Tamworth enabled customers to view council tax balance, inform the council about moves in/ out of a property, report street scene issues (clean/ green), and to make a complaint.


The Assistant Director, People, reported that they continued to monitor demand for the services and the impact on customers.


The Committee sought clarification on the plans for a customer facing presence if the Levelling Up Fund application was unsuccessful where it was reported that there would be a requirement to reconsider the previous plans which had been paused awaiting the Levelling Up Fund decision.


On the Vulnerability & Third Sector workstream the Assistant Director, Partnerships reported that this would look at how residents accessed council and partner services.  A baseline report was produced and the police definition of vulnerability was adopted; where a person as a result of their situation or  circumstances was unable to take care or protect themselves or others from harm or exploitation.


It was reported that there were five streams which were:

1.    Financial exclusion

2.    Social exclusion

3.    Digital exclusion

4.    Mental health

5.    Housing / homelessness


It was reported that the Council recognise the importance of partner organisations such as Heart of Tamworth and Community Together CIC and other organisations and services, such as Tamworth Advice Centre, Heat Service, and working with mental health teams, such as the Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust, which support these strands and which the Council provided funding to.


Once there was further clarity on our front facing offer, a Vulnerability Strategy would be developed to set out areas whether the Council would lead and where the Council would work with partners to deliver.  It was expected that there would be funding used from the Shared Prosperity Fund to support the development of this strategy.


The Committee sought clarification on:

1.    How commissioned services were reporting back on their work to support the vulnerability strands of work.  The Assistant Director reported that these figures would be included as part of the Housing Strategy update which was expected at the Committee in the new year.

2.    The CIC Community Together Warmer Places poster and whether this covered all the current provision which it was reported that it did, and included the Tamworth Advice Centre, Beat the Cold, Places of Welcome and covered business as usual places.  The Warm Spaces  information would be provided shortly and provide additional information.

3.    Whether the funding over the next two year period for these services was secure, where it was reported that there was existing funding for the   current interventions and that they were secure, however as the Vulnerability strategy was developed, there could be a requirement to look for further funding.

4.    How the Council worked with partner organisations when vulnerable residents were identified, where the Assistant Director, Partnerships reported that sign-posting between council officers and partner organisations worked extremely well to assist and support vulnerable residents.


The Committee thanked the Officers for their update and for the work undertaken.  The Officers then left the meeting.