Friday, 6 December 2013

Latest Weather

I see our very own tailgunner filed two reports this morning over on the Napo forum and they are re-transmitted here in case adverse atmospheric conditions interfere with reception:-

Weather Report for Thursday December 5th

Automatic assignment and Expression of Interest letters are falling regularly on doormats around the country now, causing widespread distress by all accounts. Because the process was imposed in a hurry and without sufficient consultation, so problems are arising with monotonous regularity. Not least the issue of clean (or otherwise) data for caseloads on 11th November. Members would do well to quietly check out their own caseloads as at that date, make a list and verify risk levels etc. Then, if and when you are 'sifted', compare the score you are given with your own calculation based on the Weighting Table at Item 48 in the "Staff Assignment Process - Guidance on the Application of the Sifting Criteria". This should be available either on Epic or your local Intranet. If you can't find it, ask HR for a copy. It is evident, around the country, that much of the caseload data available for sifting is incorrect, particularly following migration of said data to N-Delius. The MoJ were warned that a data cleansing exercise would be a necessary pre-requisite for a successful sifting exercise. Belatedly they are realising this and applying unreasonable pressure to sort the problem out. Such pressure ("management instructions"), which will often fall on middle managers, may appear a reasonable thing to ask if it were requested in a reasonable timeframe. Seeking to do this in a hurry when it conflicts with other priorities may lead to mistakes being made - which all adds to the likelihood of grounds for appeal.

Equally, and again because of the haste with which the process was imposed, significant aspects of the Guidance are likely to prove unworkable. Trusts will need to seek further guidance from the People Transition Service at the MoJ ( who have effectively usurped the authority of the NNC/Probation Association). With limited knowledge of practice (being predominantly HR professionals), they are already issuing further guidance to Trusts which may or may not prove useful. None of this is being discussed with the Unions or the PA and as such the PTS must accept responsibility for it - and any problems it causes. One HR Director, with experience of undertaking similar exercises in other public services, has described this as the worst he or she has ever experienced. One feels some sympathy for HR staff seeking to implement this locally, particularly since it is such staff whose jobs will be most at risk in April.

The Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy scheme - best described as being in abeyance. It may yet see the light of day, to the potential benefit of all staff and not just Chief Officers. The MoJ are believed to be acutely aware of the fact that offering enhanced VR to Chief Officers only is likely to cause more than a little dismay and anger lower down the food chain - not least amongst the aforementioned HR staff who are supposed to be implementing assignment processes locally. This might seem to be what could be described as a "business risk". It is not known if the national Risk Register has been updated to reflect this but it should have been.

A word on future training - there's a good team working on this within NOMS but the task in hand is a tough one. The Secretary of State is, as with everything else, constraining what can be done and coupled with the very tight timetable, there are real questions as regards achievability. There is a real concern that training gaps will develop again a la the Howard Gap.

Pensions - there is a plan in hand to move everybody to the same Local Government Pension Scheme. It all looks to be under control but the timeline is incredibly tight. A Statutory Instrument must be laid and approved. At the moment, the target date for completion of the exercise is mid-March. Not much room for manoeuvre. Three things have to happen simultaneously on 1st April. The new 2014 LGPS Regs have to be implemented - move to a career average scheme etc (with yet to be announced transitional arrangements). LGPS schemes using different software platforms have to be merged into one (bit like different case management systems all moving to NDelius). Thirdly, all probation staff, past and present, will have to be migrated into the one scheme. They say that it can be done but it is a risky juxtaposition. Interesting to compare and contrast this project with staff assignment (see above). Here a period of about 3 months is allowed for data cleansing prior to implementation - there, it was something of an afterthought.

What will happen on 1st April - on the face of it, less and less. The workforce may be split into two discrete sets - the NPS and the CRCs. Almost certainly there will be an expectation that staff will continue working as if this hadn't happened. Caseloads will be re-assigned later on. There will be few if any office moves. Staff may be paid by new pay authorities but even things like new email addresses and security passes now look doubtful. Not much can happen until the staff assignment process is complete and this is unlikely to be before mid to late February at the earliest. CRCs will have new governance structures which at the moment seem to consist of a CEO who will officially only take office on Day 1 plus a Head of Operations and a Head of Corporate Support/HR - and that's it. Doubtless by Day 2 everything will be up and running. In the NPS, everyone will metamorphose into civil servants. Quite what that will mean remains to be seen. A meeting today and three subsequent meetings before and after Christmas may enlighten.

And beyond? - the share sale/transfer originally planned for September/October 2014 is now shown as 'by 2015'. There is slippage. 

Finally, what's happened to the pay claim? - that would be a good question. The claim was lodged in May. Everyone knows what the Government restriction is on public sector pay settlements and yet, just this week, we learn that the pay remit (the authority for the Employers to make an offer) is still "with NOMS" and then it has to go to the Minister. So, on the one hand, matters can move with astonishing speed if the political will is there - as in the TR Programme, but on the other hand, in matters of concern to individual staff, like a cost of living increase, there is a delay of 5 months and still nothing happens.

General Outlook - chaos will rain from January until April and quite probably well beyond.

Tailgunner to Captain Biffo


Have just read the words of comfort, insight and encouragement from WingCo G on this mission. Is this another of those bally 'letters of comfort' he's taken a liking to? Do you think he'll write similarly empathetic letters to individual crew members who lose their livelihoods along the way? 

He describes the meeting on the 20th as if he was there, but surely that was the day he was long lunching at his Club wasn't it? He seems to be blaming the TUFlights for the bish. Having spoken with everyone that was there (apart of course his own ADC), nobody else seems to have a similar recall. Do you think he's suffering from disorientation and optimism bias? I've heard that there's a lot of it going around at MoJ.

Clearly not for me to say as I could get carpeted but perhaps the WingCo should consider a long holiday to recuperate. No chance of him being given a desk job I suppose? After all, he has already flown a number of dangerous and unsuccessful missions in his previous posting.

Sorry about late posting of Weather Report - finger slipped on morse key.


  1. Can someone parachute tailgunner into a job at NOMS? Evidently he or she knows what's going on - and it would be nice to think that someone up there did.

  2. Urgh. Cameron on Channel 4 News signing a Book of Condolence for Mandela. Quite put me off my tea. Have these people no shame? Evidently not, given TR.

  3. RIP Nelson Mandela. I'm sorry and ashamed that the UK govt used public money to pay for the showcase funeral of the woman who called you a terrorist, who supported PW Botha, who supported apartheid, and who hid her wealth offshore to avoid paying taxes. I loathe and deplore the duplicitous, thieving scum. You would forgive them. That's but one reason why you're a far bigger human being than I could ever be.