Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 17 DECEMBER 2001
60. So it is done independently?
(Ms Casey) Yes.
61. Why did you not do the same with the rough
sleepers count because part of the problem seems to be with the
figures, that these organisations have cast doubt on them precisely
because it is you doing the count?
(Ms Casey) But we do not do the count. Therein lies
the issue, that we do not do the count.
62. Were you not out on the night of the count?
(Ms Casey) I am regularly out on the streets either
doing outreach and some of my team, including me, from time to
time go out on counts, yes, but we do not do the count.
63. The count is done by the Rough Sleepers
Unit officials and agencies like Shelter and Crisis and so on,
is it not?
(Ms Casey) It is not actually. In many areas of the
country it is done by local authorities in partnership with outreach
organisations, sometimes soup runs, hostel workers. There are
as many independent people involved. Sometimes a member of the
Rough Sleepers Unit will be there, sometimes they will not be
there. The critical people are the people who are responsible
for submitting the figures to the DTLR and they are the local
authorities or the charities, Homeless Link in London.
64. My next question is about page 29 of the
report, the fifth paragraph down entitled `Integration' which
says "Rough sleepers willing to accept assistance can expect
to have a key worker to put together a package of help tailored
to their individual needs . . . ." Could you talk a little
bit more about rough sleepers willing to accept assistance? What
is a rough sleeper who is willing to accept assistance and what
is one who is not?
(Ms Casey) One of the interesting things that the
National Audit Office report picked up on was the need for us
to focusI have forgotten where it is in the reportby
"us", I mean the country, on helping some of the most
vulnerable people come inside, people for whom actually all other
initiatives were coming and going really. In other words, people
particularly with drug, alcohol and mental health problems. There
is a real necessity to ensure that for a very long term rough
sleeper, someone who is desperately vulnerable with all sorts
of problems, you do have a package of help available to that person
that will mean, for example, they might move directly into their
own permanent home, they might move into hospital for a bit, once
they have done drug detox and rehabilitation they then may move
into something like supported housing or into a hostel which is
drug free. In areas where we are trying to make sure that very
vulnerable people get help the package of care that you give that
person is the critical difference, is it not just bricks and mortar,
it is trying to work out the approach that will help that human
being off the street and permanently.
65. We are running out of time.
(Ms Casey) I am sorry, I could talk for Britain on
66. The question of where you count and where
you do not count, for example in a city like London where do you
(Ms Casey) Every attempt is made to count everywhere
humanly possible, frankly.
67. You do not count in the whole of Greater
(Ms Casey) Local authorities in different areas of
London. For example, Waltham Forest did a count. Other areas do
estimates. Mainly local authorities pick where they have a problem,
they identify that.
68. It is all done on the same night, on the
night of your big count, is it not?
(Ms Casey) Throughout the country people organise
counts in different ways. The South West tried to bunch all their
69. What concerns me is the problem is being
made less visible rather than going away. What would you say to
(Ms Casey) I am pleased to have the chance to say
this because if you look at our August progress report you will
see that over 3,000 rough sleepers have moved in during the course
of the preceding year. So even though from 1998-2001 you see the
1,850 street count, then we came down to 1,600, then 1,100, then
700 during the lifetime of this report, what lies behind that,
which is the information we have, is the total number of people
that were being helped over the course of the year, and it was
3,000, so throughout the country an awful lot of work is going
on out there by charities and local authorities as well as many
others to actually help people move off the streets permanently.
Mr Bacon: Thank you.
Chairman: Thank you, Mr Bacon. David Rendel.
70. Thank you, Chairman. I think we might give
Ms Casey a little rest for a while. I will start with Ms McDonald
but I may come back to Ms Casey later.
(Ms Casey) I do not mind.
71. Can I ask Ms McDonald first of all, it has
always struck me, being one of the too rare MPs who have come
from industry rather than through professional public service
into this job, that one of the main differences between the Civil
Service when you go into it and industry is that in industry you
tend to go into a job when you graduate or whatever and move around
between lots of different departments and maybe lots of different
companies indeed certainly during the first 20 years or so of
your career. To what extent is the Civil Service now trying to
make the practice of moving people not just into different jobs
within a department but frequently between whole departments to
give them that breadth of experience?
(Mavis McDonald) It is trying to do that. It has always
been the practice to do some of that but there has been a greater
focus on that as part of the Civil Service Reform Programme. It
is also trying to build up people's experience through secondments
or interchanges or shadow experiences. I think it is also implying
to people that really the whole range of what you might do, so
people have been encouraged to be part of the Millennium Volunteers'
Programme, for example, is to get out there and broaden your range
of experience. I think too that one of the big changes of culture
has been almost that we have been encouraged to go out more to
talk to people directly ourselves and to get more junior staff
out on platforms where they have got to explain to people what
they are doing.
72. That is a lovely qualitative answer but
what I would like to know is if you start off in one department,
in DTLR or whatever, what are the chances that you will have experienced
more than, say, three other departments, not just changing names
of the departments but three other departments, during your career
over the next 20 years?
(Mavis McDonald) It very much now depends on what
you want to do because internally most of the posts are advertised
and you need to promote yourself to move into another department
as well as working on your establishment. I think three departments
most people would not have experienced.
73. As many as three they would not have experienced?
(Mavis McDonald) No.
74. So a maximum of two departments would be
the most people would have experienced?
(Mavis McDonald) Some people would have experienced
more. Some people would have moved in and out of, say, the Treasury
or the Cabinet Office, but probably not more than two.
75. That surprises me and I raise it in relation
to this particular report because I would have thought it would
be hugely easier to get joined up working going properly if you
had people who had experience of a wide variety of departments.
Is that not correct?
(Mavis McDonald) The number of people who are working
on policy in Whitehall is rather smaller than the whole raft of
the Civil Service. A lot of people are working in agencies with
particular task and service delivery. There is quite often interchange
between those as well, but the more important ways of bringing
people together are changing behaviour, what counts as being good
practice in policy making in setting your own objectives, in helping
ministers set cross-cutting objectives for spending reviews, for
example. So actually failure to see that you are working in a
silo is not acceptable any more. I think it is that change of
culture across the whole of the Civil Service that is much more
important than where you might be at any one point in time.
76. Do you not think, for example, that it would
help to have somebody who had, for example, once worked in Social
Services but is now working in the Department for Education? They
might be able to see ways in which child care would be better
handled because they would have had experience of the other department.
(Mavis McDonald) Certainly, and we do encourage that
and advertising posts and opening up posts across the service
has actually led to people being much more focused in terms of
pursuing jobs that they particularly want to do because they know
they bring the skills to bear. We have opened up a lot more but
you asked me about the total and I gave you my best estimate on
the total. I would expect increasingly as we move forward that
in the senior Civil Service in particular we will be looking for
people who have different kinds of experience in different types
77. So if people want to get on in the Civil
Service they had better learn that just two departments is not
going to be enough in the future?
(Mavis McDonald) That is very clearly behind the Civil
Service Reform Programme's focus on broadening experience, the
interchange policies and so on. We have got a significant number
of people, something just less than about half of the senior Civil
Service, who have got some kind of experience of the kind I was
describing to you outside the Civil Service as well.
78. Can I move on to invest to save. How much
money has so far been invested?
(Mavis McDonald) About £400 million.
79. How much money has so far been saved?
(Mavis McDonald) Not all of the projects within the
programme are set up to save money in the sense of cutting back
on existing programmes, they are much more about cost-effective
type approving and about how you get better outputs as well or
3 Note by witness: My response was made on
the basis of general experience. Statistics of this kind are not