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Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.
Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.
Any Member with an affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
Urgent Items of Business
Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.
There were no urgent items of business.
To receive a report outlining the options for staff retention initiatives for the Committee’s consideration.
The Director: Resources presented a report to the Committee outlining the options for staff retention initiatives for their consideration, which would inform the final 2021/22 budget proposals which would be considered by the Executive and Council later this month.
In November 2020, the Council published its draft budget proposals, prior to the Government announcing the Local Government Settlement Scheme. The Provisional Local Government Finance Settlement was announced just before Christmas and proved to be relatively generous, this included an extension of one-off specific grants to help mitigate Covid-related costs into 2021/22 was announced. Most significantly
for Bracknell Forest, the New Homes Bonus grant was continued in 2021/22,
which coincided with the period of fastest housing growth in the borough since the
creation of the new town. Due to these changes, the Council had some unexpected one-off financial flexibility in 2021/2 and proposals to use this on a range of measures to support the Borough’s recovery from the impacts of Covid would be set out in a report to the Executive’s meeting on 9 February 2021.
A pay freeze in 2021/22 had been announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 2020 as part of his Spending Round announcement, for most public sector employees, including those in local government, coupled with the presume of working from home, and the effect that this could have on staff and their mental health, it was believed that this was likely to make retention of staff over the next 12 – 18 months more difficult during a period when the Council needed to have access to the right skills and capacity to help the Borough and its residents recover from the impacts of the Covid pandemic. Senior Officers were already reporting that there was quick staff turn around already happening in a number of key areas.
The Committee were presented with a simple proposal for a 1% retention payment to staff, which was based on staff’s base salaries, and excluded the Central Management Team. The report detailed options surrounding who would receive the payment and when this should be paid. There were also options within the report and supplementary around further options that the Council may wish to undertake for a more targeted approach for a particular staff group should there be particular issues over the course of the year.
It was important for the Committee to note, that before those specific and targeted approaches were introduced, the Borough Solicitor had advised that they would be to be subject to an equality impact assessment due to the make up of the council’s workforce.
The proposal for the retention payment did not require all the funding earmarked for the proposal, s it was at the Committees discretion to whether the recommended to the Executive that this be added to one of the other themes within the one of stimulus package or remained held by the Employment Committee to target any specific issues that may arise during 2021/22.
The Chief Executive emphasised to the Committee ... view the full minutes text for item 15.