Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence



COMMISSION FOR RACIAL EQUALITY

Finance and General Purposes Committee

  25 March 2002

  AUTHOR—Onyema Ibe

  HEADING—Transitional funding for Racial Equality Councils in Scotland

  ISSUE—Racial Equality Councils

DECISION       INFORMATION [  ]      DISCUSSION [  ]

  TIMING (for decision)

RECOMMENDATION

  It is recommended that the Finance and General Purposes Committee approve the proposals outlined below.

RELEVANCE TO KEY BUSINESS PRIORITIES

  The funding of local racial equality work is a key component of the CRE's strategic priority to connect with communities and central to achieving our objectives in this area of work.

BACKGROUND

  Following the public consultation on the Acona report, (this was the subject of an update report to the last meeting of the Committee), over 100 responses were received, more than 80 in the form of completed questionnaires echoing views of the public and voluntary sector organisations. The evaluation of these responses will be a major consideration in the future development of local racial equality work.

  The CRE currently funds 13 posts in RECs in Scotland, 445,000, which amounts to 45 per cent of the budget in Scotland. It is worth noting that in 2001-02 CRE funding of Scottish RECs received the least amount of match funding, compared to other country or regional offices, and we anticipate that this will dramatically improve over the next 12 months.

  Commissioners will note from the information below that there will be a saving in the short term, with the absence of any paid employees in one REC, however it is not officers recommendation to reduce the overall funding to RECs.

  The performance and attitude of Scottish RECs has been well documented and officers have continued to reinforce the need to develop ways of delivering effective and modern services and to monitor and evaluate in situ, the RECs progress towards this objective.

  All RECs were asked to focus their work plans for 2002-03 on four key areas—addressing local needs, complainant aid services, fulfilling the requirements for Core Standards and progressing the modernising agenda in their locality, ie identifying alternative methods of delivery and broadening the funding base for local work. With this challenging agenda in mind, work plans were pared down to ensure that the organisations could effectively deliver against these focus areas.

  Officers provided intense support to the RECs, supplementing the comprehensive guidance and training provided by the Central Partnership Unit. This programme of individual and group assistance together with an extended deadline was afforded with the belief that well-thought out, quality documentation would be received. Unfortunately this was not reflected in the majority of submissions.

  Officers have made recommendations on the basis of

    (i)  the final work plan submissions—all initial plans were assessed, feedback was provided, plans were resubmitted and then reassessed

    (ii)  the organisations procedures and policies examined meet level one requirements of Core Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 10, 11, 13

    (iii)  a satisfactory work programme review of 2001-02

PROPOSAL

    (i)  that Central Scotland, Fife, Grampian and Tayside RECs receive a full year's funding, on the condition that tangible progress is made on the objectives and modernising agenda confirmed by interim assessments on a quarterly basis.

    (ii)  that West of Scotland REC receives six-months funding as a result of an unsatisfactory work programme and a failure to meet level one of Core Standards 4, 7, 11, 13. Within that period the REC should achieve full compliance with the 10 Core Standards and submit a revised and satisfactory work programme. Officers also suggest that the REC should submit, by the end of April, a timetable outlining how and by when it will meet all the requirements. This to be complemented by monthly monitoring visits until the suggested improvements are evident. Furthermore, the Director should make the commitment to attend REO forums to overcome difficulties of providing support and clear understanding of work planning, review, and around delivering a quality service.

    (iii)  that Edinburgh and Lothians REC, with an unsatisfactory work programme submission and the resignation of all paid employees receives no further funding at this time. It is our intention to maintain the current level of funding, however further discussions must take place with other funders so that a structure for developing an effective local race equality partnership can be agreed.

    (iv)  that initial savings from the suspension of funding in Edinburgh and Lothians be redirected to contribute to the developments that needs to take place in the Highlands and Islands. This need for a short-term piece of work has been recognised by local organisations who have agreed to develop a multi-agency approach to review existing provision and to consider future strategies for race equality.

DELIVERY

  Already covered in the proposals.

LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS

  The proposal within the legal strategy, to introduce a rolling programme of assistance from the legal affairs team to RECs and other organisations will begin in April for those RECs where satisfactory work programmes have been submitted.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES CONSIDERATIONS

  The CRE is alert to any concerns regarding equality of opportunity in this area of work, there are non to report at present.

FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS

  A budget of 467,257 from the CRE Scotland has been submitted which is still subject to formal approval. It should be noted that this budget figure does not take account of any potential expansion of local racial equality work funded by the CRE in response to the modernising agenda.

  There will be an initial saving in the budget and this will be used to fund development work in the far North. In order to progress future recommendations to improve the geographical coverage in Scotland it is likely that additional funds will be required to address the absence of services in the Highlands and Islands and the Borders.

PRESENTATIONAL ASPECTS

  The funding of RECs and the modernising agenda continues to be a sensitive issue and has been subject to press reporting in the past. Commissioners should be aware of the potential negative reaction from those organisations where funding conditions have been applied.

DETAIL

  Already covered in the body of the report.

CONCLUSION

  Officers advise that Finance and General Purpose Committee approve the funding of five RECs plus a short term piece of development work as outlined in this proposal.

  In line with the strategic priority to connect with communities, to ensure continued consultation and the furthering of local racial equality, CRE Scotland would welcome the opportunity to discuss the resources available for this work. Currently the Band B officer (SEO) manages this area of work alongside her other policy remit and the Band C (HEO) officer post originally identified to fulfil the voluntary sector role was frozen during last years recruitment cuts.

CONSULTATION ROUTE:

  Relevant team members within Scotland Team and the Central Partnership Unit.







West of Scotland REC—2002-03 Work Programme Final Assessment—Unsatisfactory

 

OBJECTIVE NO. 2

  It was made clear to all RECs that Core Standards, ie a quality assured management system should be incorporated within the work delivered and not stand alone as an objective in the 2002-03 work plan. Under outcomes, 1 + 2, eg casework reviewed, manager trained, there is no indication of what changes or improvements will be made as a result. Under Core Standards the outcomes identified ". . . procedures for tasks at level three" appear unrealistic given there are currently areas where WSREC does not meet level one.

Action points

  Core Standards work has now been incorporated under objective one. No additional reference to outcomes 1+2 Key tasks and outcomes still identify CS level three which as previously commented is unrealistic.

OBJECTIVE NO. 3

  This objective " . . . dealing of the public duty . . ." does not make sense. Does this mean that the public bodies have in place by November 2002 arrangements to meet there requirements under the Act? Which public authorities are you referring to—the local authorities or all public bodies? Please re-evaluate.

  The outcomes identified do not appear to challenge or extend the work that local authorities will be doing in response to their new duties, it is difficult to see how writing to them to remind them of their responsibilities will bring about significant change, particularly given that they will be receiving statutory Codes of Practice from the CRE in May. outlining the new requirements. Please re-evaluate.

Action points

  Objective changed to "To work with the 12 Unitary authorities, four health boards and education establishments to actively promote the positive duty".

  This key task and outcome has been removed.

OBJECTIVE NO. 4

  Given the context in which the work programmes were being produced it is unclear why this is a key objective in the work plan. There are areas that have not been included in this plan that are of key priority within the CRE Scotland. With regard to this objective—how does it tie into follow—up work? The objective needs further clarity as do the activities and the outcomes. How many organisations? Please be explicit about the what the "good practice" will look like and what impact that will have in the delivery of racial equality.

Action points

  Objective remains. Six organisations targeted and an additional outcome identified as their participation on the University of Paisley course. Date changed from March 2003 to December 2003, now outwith the timescale.

OBJECTIVE NO. 5

  Outcomes. Does completion of a project ensure success and an improvement in that particular area of delivery? Please reconsider the outcomes that have been identified.

Action points

  Further clarification provided.

ALL OBJECTIVES

  Having worked through your original submission, page by page, during the visit on 20 January, having provided examples of possible objectives that would tie into the four key areas, and having been clear that this work plan must address the modernising agenda and progress some of the Acona recommendations there is no evidence that WSREC will be pursuing these objectives. This was the basis for a reduction in the work programme which you have actioned yet there is a failure to address the key modernisation requirement despite giving the commitment to do so. This needs to be remedied and form a key part of the work plan.

  Dates—quarterly is not specific enough, please address.

Action points

  No further reference or evidence that a key part of the work plan will include progressing the modernising agenda despite previous discussion and agreement to that effect.

  Dates revisited and now more specific.

 


 
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