So much for ‘flaming June’, but at least the political scene has been running hot. Following a hugely dramatic week (featuring a farce of the highest order in respect of the public sector pay cap) which has revealed the 3.5 billion price we are all paying to keep the minority government in power. If this reversion to Keynesian economics is good enough for Northern Ireland, which nobody doubts desperately needs help for its social infrastructure, then its surely good enough for the other regions in the UK who are also in need.
The much criticised arrangement between the Tories and the DUP has inevitably given rise to any number of questions about the fairness of the UK electoral system.
Essentially It goes something like this: as in how is it fair that the Democratic Unionist Party (237,000 votes in the General Election) with 10 MPs gives them such leverage while half a million Green Party voters are represented by 1 Member of Parliament, and the Lib-Dems with over 12 million votes get 12 seats?
Two years ago Napo successfully seconded a motion at the TUC Congress calling on the TUC to review the options for electoral reform and proportional representation (PR), here’s their report
Napo members who are understandably encouraged by the outcome of the general election and the prospect of one more heave through ‘first past the post’, should beware of the lessons of the past, where minority governments hang on and hang on and then win the next election with a working majority.
Perhaps the seismic shifts in voting patterns make that a tad unlikely, and the results from other elections across the globe suggest that one should never take anything for granted.
Anyway, Napo has no mandate for PR and the point of sharing my thoughts is that perhaps it’s time that we did?
Maybe a motion to AGM might emerge from somewhere?
Advice to Napo VLO members on E3 1:1s, job descriptions and pay protection
If you are a VLO member who has encountered difficulties or has queries about the E3 job descriptions, 1:1s and/or pay protection, please feel free to share this advice prepared by National Vice-Chair Katie Lomas with other VLO colleagues.
Napo has discussed the issues and concerns raised by Napo members with the national NPS HR team and they have offered the following helpful clarification of the process – some additional narrative appears in italics.
All staff should receive a 1:1 meeting with their Line Manager. During the 1:1 meeting the line manager will discuss the E3 job description which the employee has been matched to. - There could be more than one 1:1 meeting if circumstances change or further clarification is needed or if implementation is delayed by the division for any reason.
Dependent upon the Divisional Implementation Plan timescales the general expectation is that the employee should then work to the JD stated. Timescales for implementation may differ between divisions dependent upon when necessary structures are in place. - If the implementation of the new JD is delayed from the date of the 1:1 the start date should be given either at the 1:1 or at a reconvened 1:1 once the dates are clarified.
Divisions provide the E3 HR team with the information relating to the new JD and subsequent pay protections requirement (if applicable). This information is then sent to SSCL who make the necessary changes on SOP and inform the employee of the changes via a letter.
If there are any specific cases where staff do not receive their letter relating to pay protection, these can be raised via the HR Business Partners (HRBP) through the probation functional mailbox and we can then look into individual queries.
Napo's advice to members who feel this process has not been properly followed for any reason is to raise it via their Line Manager (or the Head of Service where no Line Manager is in place). Any issues with SSCL should be raised with the HRBP and logged as a complaint with SSCL to ensure they are properly recorded. If the problem is not resolved you should contact a local Napo rep to advice on further action if efforts to deal with the issues via the advice given here are not successful.
Late Night Courts
The Government is piloting late night courts and everything I have seen so far about this suggests it is another bad idea. Below is a link to a petition to stop late night Courts from running. Members have contacted Napo Officers and Officials saying that this will have a direct impact on our members as well as court staff and lawyers. I have seen several comments to the effect that this is particularly discriminatory to those with child caring commitments, which also clearly affects some of our members.
If you agree then please sign and circulate.
Cafcass agrees new guidance notes with Family Division President
Napo members in the Family Court Section learnt that an agreement has been reached between Cafcass and the Judiciary to pilot changes in the use of professional time.
The opening paragraphs of the guidance say:
‘It is essential that children’s guardians produce a case analysis in every public law case, so that each child has a definitive independent social work analysis of what she or he needs. This applies to all cases, whatever the nature of the application.
Flexibility applies to when this is produced and when a case needs one or two analyses. We think that some cases will require only one, not two. The one definitive analysis will normally be produced for the hearing which is making the decisions about the child’s permanence placement, whether this is with one or both parents, with relatives, or outside the family. The definitive analysis can be produced either for the Case Management Hearing (CMH) or the Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH), depending on the circumstances of the case. Section 31 and secure applications will always have a position statement for every hearing where this is needed, so that each hearing is effective. Similarly, not all CMH’s will need an initial case analysis, sometimes a position statement will suffice.’
Given that the rest of the document suggests that there will be a fundamental impact on practitioners I have asked Chief Executive Anthony Douglas to meet with the FCS leadership and myself to discuss this, as up to now we remain in the dark about the rationale.
Edridge needs a hand
Nominations are invited from Napo branches for two individuals to serve as Trustee of the Edridge Fund from August 2017. Edridge is a registered charity which exists to provide assistance to those eligible to be members of Napo, together with their dependants "who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress".
Around £50,000 is paid out each year in grants by the Fund. Income is raised by donations from branches and individuals, fundraising events, and a small levy from Napo members' subscriptions. Each Napo branch is asked to elect an Edridge Representative to work at a local level.
Currently there are five Trustees, each elected in rotation for a five-year term. Trustees are elected by the NEC for not more than two consecutive terms, other than in exceptional circumstances.
The Trustees meet for one day four or five times a year to consider issues related to the organisation of the Fund. Meetings are usually held in London. Expenses are paid at Napo rates.
Outside meetings, trustees consider grant applications received during the course of the year and reach collective decisions on whether a grant should be paid and the amount. Decisions are usually made by email.
Anyone sympathetic to the aims of the Edridge Fund who is able to spare two to three hours a week plus attend meetings in London four or five times a year is invited to apply.
In view of the particular responsibility involved in this post, any person seeking nomination should feel free to contact the Secretary of the Edridge Fund (Karen Monaghan at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss the financial and other special responsibilities of a charity trustee's role. Additionally, it is advisable for nominees to read the Charity Commission’s advice on the responsibilities of trustees which can be found on the Charity Commission website at:
Each nominee should be given a copy of the attached nomination and monitoring form (BR32a/2017), which they need to complete and submit no later than noon on Friday 4th August. If forms are received after that date, we cannot guarantee that information about a candidate will be included in the NEC papers and this may affect that candidate's prospects of election.
Nomination forms, which must be completed in all sections and returned by the nominee, should be sent by post to:
Ian Lawrence, General Secretary
(C/o Annoesjka Valent, Administrator)
160 Falcon Road
London SW11 2NY
Forms can be emailed to Annoesjka Valent at email@example.com or faxed to 020 7095 0963
Members in Working Links show courage under pressure
I am signing off this week’s Blog posting on the way back from a hugely encouraging South, South Western, Napo Branch AGM. Here members turned out in a good number and again demonstrated their resolve to see recognition of their union’s right to meaningful consultation and negotiation with the CRC owner Aurelius/Working Links.
The loyalty of our UPW service members and their refusal to be intimidated or bullied into variations of contract are a shining example to Napo members across the three CRCs. I am now awaiting feedback from the Napo AGM’s for Wales and Western branches before attempting to finalise a Memorandum of Agreement with the employer over the way in which unpaid work services should be delivered and how the associated staffing issues should be dealt with sensibly and fairly.
A short break beckons for me and I will be back with more news in just over a week’s time where I will also be focusing on Napo’s future direction of travel as we now enter a critical period of consultation with members.