East Riding Council set 'to spend £2m on pay review and job evaluation scheme for 10,500 employees'

Opposition councillors have criticised moves by East Riding Council to spend around £2m on a pay review and job evaluation scheme using external consultants.

Beverley is home to County Hall, the headquarters of East Riding Council Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Beverley is home to County Hall, the headquarters of East Riding Council Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Liberal Democrats said "splashing out" on consultants to deliver a "total pay and reward strategy" for up to 10,500 council employees was a "slap in the face" for council taxpayers.

The approval of the Council's Cabinet is being sought for the 18-month project should allow for "meaningful consultation and negotiation with trade unions due to potential changes to terms and conditions".

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Officers want to hire in consultants due to "limited internal capacity" and aim to complete the work "as quickly as possible to reduce the period of uncertainty that staff will feel during this project".

The report to the council's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday said: "It is recognised that such a programme could be disruptive and emotive for staff and whilst it is important that the workforce is effectively engaged in this activity, it is equally important that this programme of work is undertaken efficiently and speedily to minimise disruption and staff uncertainty."

The strategy will consider leave, sick pay, allowances, performance-related pay, bonuses and overtime as well as salary. It will include support staff in schools.

Leader of the opposition, Liberal Democrat councillor David Nolan said: "To splash out £2m on consultants during a pandemic when businesses are under pressure and employees are losing their jobs is a slap in the face to our East Riding council taxpayers.

"Why on earth isn't Human Resources and the council's own senior management carrying out this work internally?

"Getting consultants in is usually a disguise for coming to difficult conclusions and a way of passing the buck to consultants.

"Under council rules the opposition is gagged from asking questions at Cabinet meetings but we will be raising the issue at full council."

The council currently uses a system called Peodesy, which was introduced more than 20 years ago. A separate job evaluation scheme for senior executives has been in use since 2004.

The money is coming from budget savings already set aside in the council's reserves.

The report adds: "Undertaking this work would need a one-off investment which is likely to be in the order of £2million to pay for the resources and the external partner needed to implement this work."

A "comprehensive" communication plan will be used to update staff, and there will also be staff newsletters meetings, online question and answer sessions, updates on the intranet, articles in Grapevine and roadshows.

The report adds: "This communication and engagement will be imbued with a spirit of openness and transparency."

The council says they need to review and update their pay strategy like all organisations. One of the area's biggest employers, last week it advertised more than 200 vacancies, from lifeguards to IT professionals.

Deputy leader John Holtby declined to comment ahead of the meeting.

In a statement Darren Stevens, director of corporate resources, said: “As a local authority, we deliver more than 600 vitally important public services that protect the vulnerable, promote healthy lifestyles, grow the economy and value the environment as well as delivering services and education provision in our local schools that helps children and young people achieve.

"It is therefore important that a Pay and Reward Strategy is in place that supports the recruitment and retention of a highly-skilled workforce, enables career progression and development and incentivises strong performance.

"The report to Cabinet is seeking approval to begin a programme of work that will help ensure the council is on the right track to meet future challenges and demands, recruit and retain quality staff and ensure it is a forward thinking and progressive employer so that it can continue to deliver high-quality services for its residents, businesses and communities.”