centre for public scrutiny

Promoting the value of scrutiny and accountability
in modern and effective government

Current time: 31-03-2015, 03:26 PM Hi there, Guest! (Login)
Post Reply 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Single Status - Job Evaluation
15-03-2010, 10:54 AM
Post: #11
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
I agree wholeheartedly with Howard's comments and observations.

I thought sharing my experience may help. The Unit I manage is freestanding based in CEs Directorate and we all work 100% in supporting scrutiny members. We are supported in the arrangement and clerking of meetings provided by our democratic services colleagues.

When a senior management review of salaries took place here using Hay's it was very clear that the evaluation system could not deal with the overview and scrutiny role. My post and grade as some of you know is a hybrid Assistant CO/Head of Service and is within the COs pay structure.

Despite demonstrating the scope to make decisions, strategic advice, span of influence within the Council and key strategic partners and working closely across political leadership spectrum nature of Head of Scrutiny role, the draft evalution came out so low that it even surprised colleagues in HR and fellow senior managers and infuriated the Chairman of OSC. It was clear to me that those who evaluated this role did not understand its strategic and political fit in modernised councils.

I appealed of course! The Chairman of OSC asked to meet with the evaluator and he provided examples of the ways in which this post should have scored higher against key criteria. Why did he do this? Beacause he felt strongly that the Head of Scrutiny post should be graded within the CO pay structure as it was 11 years when this post was created at Hounslow, so that the post holder could have clout and the scrutiny function could be seen within the organisation and externally as being important. He did not want this function reduced in its status and hel felt strongly that if the salary for this post was significantly reduced, then how officers and others saw the function would also change.

The evaluators awarded some more points but not enough so with some localised additions I/the post did not lose out. However the next time there is a job evalution I'm not confident that the grade can be maintained unless the evaluators better understand new and emerging roles. New for them but not for us!

Based on my experience somebody needs to be raising our roles in supporting non executives with the evaluators as they don't understand the scrutiny role. They just did not appreciate how a Head of Scrutiny could operate for example with the Chief Exec of the PCT and the sphere of independence in advice giving to scrutiny chairs and executive. Somebody needs to be advocating the professional nature of the scrutiny skill sets in its own right. This is especially important in times of budget challanges when members need to have people appointed with the right skills set and experience. If through job evalaution exercises, whatever the context, scrutiny officer salaries are lowered, then like Howard and others, I fear for what this will do to the support for scrutiny members.

Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
15-03-2010, 11:10 AM
Post: #12
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
From my research, it seems to me that the NJC JES (which is the evaluation scheme that most of your authorities probably use) isn't very good at evaluating jobs which require direct member contact - and, crucially, a job which involves advising members on substantive issues of policy.

The JES dates back to 1997, which is of course pre-scrutiny, and has only been subject to minor amendments since then.

I'll continue to look into this. Can I ask that those of you who have gone through the process contact me, in confidence, to let me know what their points score was, pre and post-appeal? It will give me a clearer idea of how employers are approaching the issue.

(For those of you who are about to start going through this process, full details of the scheme can be found in part 4 of the Green Book which is on the LGE website).
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
15-03-2010, 12:44 PM
Post: #13
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
Our existing SO grades were maintained at JE. We put a lot of team effort into completing our JE forms and getting the individual submissions coherent. The forms themselves certainly didn't look geared toward recognition of the democratic process, so we made sure we got that into the "any other comments" bit. On the basis that it worked for us, here is the opening section of my submission:

"I lead the team which supports the overview/scrutiny element of the Council's democratic decision-making processes (its 'executive arrangements'), working directly with and on behalf of elected councillors and dealing as a matter of routine with senior managers of the County Council and partner organisations, up to and including Directors and Chief Executives. It is inherent in my job that I must be able, with due diplomacy, to ask 'awkward questions' of any of these people.

The Government's Guidance on New Council Constitutions (March 2001) makes clear that:

'To achieve enhanced accountability and transparency of the decision making process, effective overview and scrutiny is essential. Overview and scrutiny committees are the key element of executive arrangements. Their roles should, therefore include both: developing and reviewing policy; and holding the executive to account... To be effective [they] must have effective and properly resourced support from officers.'

The Local Government Act 2000 requires that any decision, service or policy is liable to overview and scrutiny. However, overview/scrutiny is not confined to the examination of the Council's services and may extend its reach to any matter of concern to the people of Devon and to the development of policy proposals. In this way the Overview/Scrutiny function is an important element of the Council's community leadership role."

Now that we have statutory SO role, that ought to help with JE, you'd think.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
17-03-2010, 03:26 PM
Post: #14
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
Hi all - update so far.

We will be producing something on this subject in the next few days, using research carried out on the scrutiny officer role by Warwick Business School last year.

Please continue to post (or e-mail me directly) with any personal experiences of the process.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
17-03-2010, 03:51 PM
Post: #15
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation

A rational person would think that the designation of a Scrutiny Support Officer would help the Pay and Grading Evaluation.

However, is not the designated Scrutiny Support Officer who has lost £4,600. The person designated as Scrutiny Support Officer was evaluated under a different system which actually recognised the responsibilities and skills in the role. The NJC Gauge system however does not seem to do this (I don't think it is actually designed for this purpose) with consequences that I have mentioned previously.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
17-03-2010, 04:49 PM
Post: #16
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
We filled in our JE questionnaires two years ago and are still awaiting the results.

Our tactic was getting to grips with the guidance on how the form would be assessed to make sure we were hitting the criteria as much as possible and using the right language to explain the role to people who will probably not be aware of what we do. I agree that it was very difficult to put across particular aspects of the job such as influencing skills and political awareness.

We are promised the results by the Autumn.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
19-03-2010, 03:52 PM
Post: #17
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
Hello all,

I have finished writing the short guide I promised (well, it isn't so short - 12 pages).

It is here - http://www.cfps.org.uk/what-we-do/public...al/?id=122

If you want access to the background documents referenced in the report but for any reason find it difficult to access them, let me know.

Hope it's useful.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
22-03-2010, 09:48 AM
Post: #18
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
I have briefly read the report and whilst I welcome it, my authority has decided to introduce the Greater London Scheme for job evluation so the factors are different. Has anyone else been through this scoring? and if so would you be willing to share your score with me?

Feel free to e-mail me the score which will be held in strictest confidence/


Neil Evans
Quote this message in a reply
30-03-2010, 08:54 AM
Post: #19
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
Hi all - I don't normally post on here but felt compelled to add my two penny worth to this.

We have been through the pay & grading process in York and the appeals process and have not done very well at all.

There is a general feeling that the Scrutiny Officer's role is not being taken seriously. Having done a small amount of research by boldly asking other Officers what they earn I have a sneaking suspicion that our salary is very low! The differences in Scrutiny Officer salaries betweeen Local Authorities is signficant (very significant in places!) - how can this be fair when we are all pretty much doing the same job? It does seem to hang on what Pay & Grading scheme a particular Local Authority has adopted, how the appeals are run and how much spare cash the Council has in general.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
30-03-2010, 11:08 AM
Post: #20
RE: Single Status - Job Evaluation
The salary does vary hugely - but the role does vary significantly from authority to authority. In some the post is heavily administrative and is regarded as a corollary to the standard Dem Services role whereas in others you are seen much more as a policy officer. This does tend to reflect the kind of work undertaken, which is in turn influenced by the attitudes of members and senior managers.

Part of the problem tends to be that JDs are not particularly specific, and tend to swirl around generalities rather than focus on the unique skills that scrutiny officers need to do their jobs.

I have seen scrutiny officer posts advertised at salaries as low as £18,500 - equally I have seen some advertised at nearly £45k and some manager posts advertised at £60k. This huge variance does make it very difficult to say that there is an archetypal officer or a "standard" grade at which scrutiny officers should be placed.

The document I produced suggests at JES score on the NJC scheme at around 490 - even this is on the low side as it would yield a salary (outside London) of around £25k. This is certainly the lowest that I would consider a scrutiny officer, doing "typical" scrutiny work, should be paid.

I am not sure why some authorities choose to use different schemes, or to use two difference schemes at the same time, for carrying out evaluations. Unfortunately, we can't provide a view for scoring for all of them!
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 

Forum Jump:

User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)
Contact Us | Centre For Public Scrutiny | Return to Top | Return to Content | RSS Syndication