With news that the MoJ team responsible for the TR omnishambles might be in line for an award, I thought it might be enlightening for readers to get an insight into how things look from the point of view of one of the new CRC owners. Here's some snippets from the latest Purple Futures staff newsletter:-
Purple Futures - Questions and Answers
Q. I'm a bit confused about the relationship between the CRC, Interserve and Purple Futures. Who do we work for?
It is a bit of a complicated arrangement. You are still employed by your CRC but you are now owned by a partnership - Purple Futures is the name of our partnership with our national partners. Interserve, 3SC, P3 and Shelter have formed a legal partnership which now owns the CRCs. The services will be delivered by the CRCs and partners. Interserve is the majority partner and is responsible for overall service delivery. The partners deliver key services under contract to the CRC.
Interserve is the majority partner with 80% of the shares in the partnership.
CRCs arw now therefore part of the wider Interserve group. Increasingly you will see Interserve materials as projects are rolled out, for example, in the recent staff survey and in future policies.
How you describe who you work for will depend on who you are talking to. Working with offenders - they might recognise the name of the CRC. In liaising with partners at a national or regional level, it may be Purple Futures. In a business development context it might be more appropriate to say part of the Interserve's justice team. How you describe what you do is really down to you, your audience and what you feel comfortable with.
Q. These newsletters are a bit long - can't you shorten them?
We want to provide you with information about what is going on and how you can get involved should you wish. We do not currently have a way of sending information to everyone with short bulletin's and links to a single platform or intranet. This is something we hope to be able to do with the new ICT.
Q. Will there be a common set of corporate systems across the five CRCs?
An interim review of existing systems was carried out by the Corporate Services Review team led by Mel Gregory. We currently have a real mixture of accounting and HR and payroll systems for example. We have come to the conclusion that an interim finance solution is required e.g. Sage and a single accounting system. However there's no immediate benefit in consolidating all the HR systems yet as everyone is working and getting paid. In the future, it's anticipated that we will move to a common services platform with more self service i.e. everyone can do everything themselves online. This is likely to take some time and is part of the professional services centre (which was previously referred to as the operational support centre) work stream project.
Q. What is the staffing plan? Why do colleagues working for other providers know theirs?
Staffing models need to be underpinned by the right systems, processes and locations in order for us to deliver our services. The delay on the MoJs strategic partner gateway will affect out ability to fully implement the new operating model (Interchange) and new technology. So until we have all those things in place, the status quo continues.
Other providers have completely different models and it's not right to draw comparisons.
To reiterate, and as stated before, there will be no staff changes until next year. If you are on fixed term or agency contracts, that is a matter for you and your chief executives who are keeping levels under review - as they would in any event. We need the right people in the right places to continue delivering great performance.
Q. What's the latest on the estates strategy? Some leases are up in the next few months and we don't know where we will be working.
We need to ensure that we have a well planned, safe, effective and cost efficient interim estates strategy. We are working with the MoJ, the NPS and Interserve to ensure that happens. It's quite complex as there are lots of moving parts.
The current position is that we are awaiting agreement on the next steps with the MoJ. Until next steps are agreed with the MoJ, anything else is rumour.
The delay to the MoJ's strategic partner gateway has meant that we need to review the proposed interim estates strategy to fully assess the impact this delay might have on proposed moves and the costs surrounding this. The gateway allows us to plug our new case management system (CMS) into it. Our buildings need to have the right infrastructure and technology to be in place in order to use the new CMS. The delay impacts our estates strategy and that's why it's a bit complicated.
All the local proposals have been led by chief executives and their teams as it's really important to consider local issues.
The plan is to exit properties where it makes sense to do so e.g. where they are under-utilised or very expensive or not fit for purpose. We will retain properties that we want to keep. We may go into some interim properties as this is a long-term plan given we are here for the next 7-10 years. We may also extend leases on some properties off the back of the MoJ's delay to the strategic partner gateway.
Where there is an immediate or short term exit, there are some plans to move staff into other buildings where we have the right infrastructure. We are not aware of any plans to move staff on an ad hoc basis into partner buildings. There might be good reasons in the longer term but only when the right risk assessments are done and where the operating model is implemented in its new form. If you are aware of local plans to do this in the short term, please let us know.
Q. Are you centralising all admin support and removing all admin staff from shared buildings with officers?
Centralisation of admin covers a wide range of functions e.g. payroll, back office systems, processing of invoices and what would traditionally be thought of as corporate services back office activities.
There is a move to centralise some aspects already. For example, on health and safety policy and reporting. Hampshire & Isle of Wight are leading as they have resources in place and now do the reporting for all five CRCs. Another example is that we had five company secretarial positions and arrangements are in place to reduce that to two.
When people leave we are taking the opportunity to rationalise. At some point there will be a professional services centre where we do things like document management, the 24 hour helpline that will be coming in and possibly IT hosting.
The role of case administrator is very different across locations. So we need to look at how the different teams operate and the dynamics that the case administrator provides. The case administrator can act as the oil in the machine and the brief can be wide or specialised depending on where you are. The job title doesn't always do the role justice. The roles of case administrators, POs, and PSOs will be looked at in the context of IT, document management, document imaging etc.
There are no plans to pull out case admin wholesale otherwise practice and service delivery would fall over. We want to help reduce admin burden and focus on the case management aspects.
Q. Will we be issued with new contracts?
No. Your terms and conditions are protected.
There are no plans but the new business model may mean some changes to roles and responsibilities. We are looking at job descriptions through one of the work streams. If there are any changes to job descriptions, normal consultation will apply. With regards to employment contracts, that will be a matter of choice for existing employees.
Q. Can you confirm if there will be voluntary redundancies for PO and SPO grades and if so, in what timescale?
Compulsory redundancies are a last resort. We hope to be able to offer re-deployment and voluntary redundancies where appropriate. We will offer a voluntary scheme to staff in the event that posts become redundant. This scheme will of course be subject to consultation.
We are currently not filling corporate service roles as natural churn occurs. As we have five CRCs, we are successfully starting to share functions across CRCs. This is both reducing our overhead costs and promoting best practice.