We Must Achieve Value for Money for Our Services; ANALYSIS Unison Is to Ballot Its Members for Industrial Action over Changes to Pay and Conditions at Birmingham City Council. Councillor Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources, Argues Change Is Long Overdue and the Only Way Forward for the Local Authority

Article excerpt

Byline: Councillor Alan Rudge

The city council owes responsibility to both the people of Birmingham and the people who work for us. I am convinced that improving services goes hand in hand with supporting and developing our committed workforce through progressive people management. You can't have one without the other and both citizens and staff benefit as a result.

Birmingham City Council is about people. The council exists to provide services to the people who live, work and enj oy their leisure in the city. The money we spend to do this is public money. It comes from the council taxpayer and the taxpayer in general. My elected colleagues and I are responsible for spending this money wisely. We must achieve value for money and provide the best possible services we can.

We must constantly look at how we work. Techniques and methods which were appropriate in the past become outdated, different priorities emerge and technology moves on. Like any customer-focussed organisation, we must make sure that we remain fit for purpose and move forward. That's why we've embarked on an ambitious programme of business transformation - transformation that will ensure we continue to provide modern, high quality, cost-effective services.

Of course, the services we provide for people are provided by people; the team of dedicated, experienced and hardworking men and women who work for the city council. As a good employer, we take very seriously our responsibility to staff whose jobs are affected by business transformation. As cabinet member for equalities and HR, I want to retain the talented and committed people we have working for us. My policy is to avoid compulsory redundancy and we have spent considerable time, effort and money to ensure this end.

Business transformation is about improving our back of office processes so that we can deliver better frontline services. Through my human resources service I am supporting this process and the people whose job roles change, in a number of ways. Meaningful consultation is held with the trades unions because they have something to offer, not just because the law says we have to. It's good to talk and we are ensuring that there is proper consultation with staff before any changes are made. They are the people who do the work and know best how it can be done better.

I have also set up the new 'Insource' service to help make our organisation more flexible and help people whose jobs have changed. The service will help people identify current skills and develop new ones, so they can move into different jobs. It will develop the new skills needed in the council so that staff have the capacity to respond to changing service requirements.

It does this through resource pools, enabling job ready individuals to change roles and through placements which enables people to develop the skills required to move into different roles and develop their careers. In addition 'Insource' provides careers counselling and journey management to help people build successful careers. Also assessment centres and other tailored services are provided to help the council manage demand for a changing workforce as necessary.

The introduction of Insource is part and parcel of an "employee bargain" when in exchange for flexibility staff are offered the support to develop skills and stay with the council through rapidly changing times. …