• Friday, April 12, 2024


BAME staff make up just three per cent at Ribble Valley Borough Council

Ribble Valley Borough Council office.

By: Robbie Macdonald

COUNCILLORS on Ribble Valley Borough Council’s Personnel Committee will consider an update this week about the local authority’s workforce, which includes data on age, ethnicity, staff turnover, pay levels and absences.

The committee meeting on Wednesday (1), will consider a range of workforce statistics from spring 2021 which it is required to produce under equality laws. It will also discuss if it needs to take any action on equality matters or other issues such as pay or absences.

Concerns were raised at the borough’s full council meeting in August about the loss of council staff to other local authorities. Pay could be a factor or other issues, the August meeting heard.

Council statistics in its workforce profile state that the Ribble Valley Borough Council workforce is ‘ageing’, with 57 per cent of staff over 50 years old. The average age is 48. The age profile of the council workforce is older than Ribble Valley’s wider working population, of which 40 per cent of workers are aged under 40.

In March this year, statistics show the borough council employed 236 people, of which 160 were full-time and 76 were part-time. Forty-seven per cent were female and 53 per cent male.

Over the 12 months to March 2021, the workforce report also states 28 staff left the council. Of those, 17 per cent were dismissed, 17 per cent took optional retirement and 57 per cent took voluntary resignation. Other leavers included staff on fixed term contracts which had ended and those who retired aged 65.

The percentage of black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff at Ribble Valley Borough Council is three per cent, figures show. The workforce profile states: “This is much less than the national average for local government workforces of 8.2 per cent but representative of the local area’s population. ”

It states there are no BAME employees in the council’s five per cent of top earners while 38 per cent of this high-earning category are women.

Regarding ethnicity, the workforce profile lists council job application, short listing and appointment statistics for the 2020-21 financial year. These show:

1,078 white or white British people applied for vacancies, of which 199 were short-listed and 67 appointed.
Three black people applied for jobs, of which one was short-listed and none were appointed.
Twenty-seven Asian people applied for jobs, of which five were short-listed and one was appointed.
Twelve mixed-race people applied, of which none were short-listed or appointed.
Seventy-five other people including 27 with no ethnic data provided had also applied for jobs. A total of nine were short-listed and five were appointed.
Meanwhile, the ratio of Ribble Valley staff with disabilities is also low at 10 per cent, compared to the national local government average of 15 per cent, the workforce profile states.
Thirty-six disabled people had applied for jobs in the 12-month period, of which eight were short-listed and one was appointed.

Turnover of borough council staff during the pandemic lockdown year of April 2020 to March 2021 was 14 per cent compared with 23 per cent the previous year, the report adds.

Staff recruitment and retention, health and wellbeing, and training and development are the council’s human resource priorities.

The committee was advised by officers to form a working group to review staff pay structures, look at ‘difficulties’with recruitment and retaining staff, and also any possible link with pay levels.

Conservative Councillors Stephen Atkinson, who is also Leader of the Council, Susan Bibby, David Peat and Mark Hindle along with Lib-Dem Coun Donna O’Rourke and Independent Coun Robert Thompson formed the working group.

The Personnel Committee has been told a Ribble Valley Borough Council job evaluation exercise was carried out back in 2005 then followed by an appeals process in 2008. Factors used in evaluations included supervision and management of people, creativity and innovation, contacts and relationships, decision-making, resources, work environments and work demands including physical work, and knowledge and skills.

The Personnel Committee has also been shown the borough council’s current job evaluation points scale and pay scale.

In August this year, Coun Atkinson told the full council meeting of concerns that staff were leaving to join other authorities offering higher pay or other career attractions.

Figures for June showed that Ribble Valley Borough Council had 28 vacancies across all departments, of which nine had been advertised and interviews were planned. Five new staff were appointed between March 1, 2021 and May 24, 2021.

Regarding staff pay, the borough council has set a budget for next year allowing for a two per cent staff pay increase. The report to this week’s committee states that each one per cent increase would cost the council around £70,000 annually.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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