Agenda item

Public Questions (30 minute maximum in total)

(Questions may be submitted to be answered by the Scrutiny Committee, or Council officers who are attending the meeting as witnesses, on any item that is within the scope of the Committee. Please see the procedure for the submission of questions at the end of this agenda)



Question from D Ingham:


I’ve raised questions at this Committee before - in December 2021 and May 2022 relating to Equalities and Wellbeing.


In May the draft Wellbeing strategy referenced HSE 2020 national statistics – e.g. 5.8 days sickness per employee. No figures for DCC were included within the report or comparison data available albeit requested.


However, at Full Council, a matter of days after the Scrutiny Committee a figure of 10.1 days was reported for DCC employees.


Furthermore, there were ambiguous points within the report e.g. the Attendance Management procedure was reported as having been updated, not that it still required approval of ACOS and circulation.


There was reference to previously excluded groups now being reported in absence metrics - when in actual fact and for context this was just one group of less than 40 individuals.


By March 2022 the average number of days sickness for DCC employees had increased to 10.66 per year and within ASCH 15.74 per employee, around double the national 2021 sector average.


In the interests of transparency, why were these known facts at the time of the Scrutiny meeting in May 2022 not reported to the Committee and/or made clearer for their benefit and consideration?

Response :


The Wellbeing Strategy is an overarching strategy document. The figure from the HSE that was quoted in the draft Wellbeing Strategy was in the section highlighting the ‘National Picture’. This was included to provide national context to the strategy and why such a strategy is beneficial to Derbyshire County Council. There is no direct correlation between the 2020 HSE figure and Derbyshire County Council sickness absence rates, as COVID-19 has had a significant effect on absence levels and the Council has made changes to the way it calculates sickness absence rates.


Furthermore, the report to the Improvement and Scrutiny Committee was to discuss the draft content of the revised Wellbeing Strategy as part of the consultation process and not a report on sickness absence rates. The Council does however report on the progress against the Council Plan to Cabinet as part of a joint Performance and Budget Monitoring Report on a quarterly basis. This includes details of sickness absence performance. Internally, regular performance reports are also shared with corporate management team and departmental management teams.


Supplementary Question:


I also made reference to this at the Extra-ordinary Full Council meeting on 02-11-22. I raised with Cllr Lewis my observations/ concerns around the use of wording within EIAs and how anticipations/reality differ.


The written response to my public question at the time when I came to Scrutiny in December made reference to the fact that Trade Unions had been consulted.  


Anybody reading that would be left thinking wrongly everything therefore was fine.


They were consulted but it failed to mention that UNISON were unhappy with the process, how it was handled and the way they were communicated with and that the process didn’t meet expectations and was raised by the TU EO Observer. 


It didn’t make it clear that the Observer didn’t see individual application forms – which was a requirement at the time and still is within the Recruitment and Selection Procedure.


I’m not seeking a reply from officers unless you wish to invite – what I do ask Chair is will the Committee acknowledge my overall detailed concerns regarding what is sometimes presented and agree it’s just as important to continue to scrutinise what isn’t said than is? 




The Chairman on behalf of the Committee acknowledged the concerns raised.


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