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New ‘people strategy’ needed to support council staff and attract new employees

Monmouthshire County Council

JOBS dependent on grant funding and other employers making better use of technology to allow staff to work from home have hit a council’s ability to recruit. 

That’s according to a report setting out why Monmouthshire County Council needs a new ‘people strategy’ setting out how its supports and develops its 4,100 strong workforce. 

The authority’s annual pay roll is around £100 million and while the size of the workforce has increased over the past 10 years, the employee budget has only gone up by around one per cent with more staff on fixed term contracts. 

But a reliance on grants for specific jobs is a risk to the council. The report stated: “We are increasingly dependent on unsecure and short-term funding and therefore more vulnerable if grants were to be removed. This also creates challenges for some colleagues who find themselves employed on a series of short-term contracts denying them the stability they are seeking.” 

Matthew Gatehouse, the chief officer for people, told the audit committee – which considered the strategy the day after it was approved by the cabinet –  the increase in fixed terms contracts places a greater strain on finance and human resources staff. 

Audit committee member Councillor Sara Burch said she was surprised the strategy makes “very little mention of pay”. 

Mr Gatehouse said the council has little control over pay as most rates are agreed nationally but its job evaluation process is intended keep roles under review and recognise if they become more complex. 

The report also said the council had “benefitted from early adoption of agile working approaches and digital technology” which it said was an “advantage in the recruitment market” but the pandemic has made them commonplace and Monmouthshire council no longer stands out as an employer in the way it had. 

The plan also recognises the council’s status as a ‘Disability Confident Employer’ to ensure it attracts and retain a diversity of talent and reduces the disability pay gap. 

Audit member Cllr Peter Strong said he would like to see reference in the report to the support the council officers to veterans such as guaranteed interview schemes for those leaving the armed forces and support for those serving with the reserve forces. 

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The strategy is intended to support the council’s main corporate and community plan.