Review of the Member Development Programme and Members' Expenses
The purpose of this report is to provide members of the Audit and Standards Advisory Committee with a summary of the Member Learning Development (MLD) Programme since the last report to Committee in March 2021; and information regarding the Members’ Expenses Scheme.
Katie Smith, Head of Executive and Member Services, introduced a report providing a summary of the Member Learning Development (MLD) Programme since the last report to the Committee in March 2021; and information regarding the Members’ Expenses Scheme.
In considering the report the Committee noted:
· Since the previous report in March 2021, 24 Member Learning & Development sessions had bene delivered four of which had been compulsory. Despite the challenges, the delivery training had continued during the pandemic involving a shift to online sessions via Zoom and MS Teams. The use of these online digital platforms for training and also meetings had not resulted in any security breaches whilst still enabling interactive sessions to be provided and increased participation among Members. Form May 2022 (following removal of covid restrictions) the plan was to run mixture of face to face and online training sessions with sessions focussed on skills development or where networking would be key, face to face formats would be used.
· The key role played by the Member Learning and Development Steering Group in providing a lead along with constructive input and evaluation on the effectiveness of the Member Training and Development Programme.
· The use of feedback to help shape and develop the Member Development Programme with the approach also subject to regular review by an external assessor (the Local Government Association and London Councils). The Council was most recently assessed in November 2021 with the assessment concluding that Brent Council continued to meet the standard of the Councillor Development Charter Plus, the highest award available. Whilst the assessment highlighted the continued success and commitment to member development across the Council and lead provided through the Member Development Steering Group a number of areas for suggested improvement were also highlighted. These included – the inclusion of face to face sessions within the induction programme to encourage networking; the prioritisation of new councillors and those with specific responsibilities when formulating Personal Development Plans; develop corporate ownership of the mentoring programme; the tailoring of sessions for different groups of councillors and considering the establishment of individual accreditation for councillors.
· In regards to Member Expenses, detailed of expenses claimed had been provided within Appendix 3 of the report with the majority relating to childcare costs given the restrictions on travel and in person meetings due to the pandemic.
· Following on from the update provided in relation to completion of mandatory training as part of the quarterly standards update report, the proposal to introduce an “Acceptable Use Statement” for councillors to sign when receiving their new IT devices following the local election in May 2022. This would require members to agree to complete their mandatory training, including Data Protection/GDPR, or risk having IT access blocked recognising the increased focus on compliance around issues related to GDPR and cyber security.
The Committee was then invited to raise questions on the report, which are summarised below:
· In relation to the Council’s mentorship programme, it was asked whether this had been assessed as part of the review. It was clarified that this had been reformed to a ‘buddy’ system in order to make the scheme more approachable for new Members.
· In terms of the overview provided within Appendix 1 of the report relating to the upcoming member learning and development sessions and development of the programme following the local elections in May 2022 members were keen to ensure this included provision on effective chairing and conduct at meetings.
· Whilst welcoming development of the proposed “acceptable use statement” members were keen to ensure members completion of the necessary mandatory training was kept under, particularly due to the sensitivity related to data which was handled by Members.
As no further issues were raised, Officers and Members were thanked for their efforts and it was RESOLVED
(1) To note the work being planned by the Member Learning and Development Steering Group in ensuring effective training and development for Brent’s elected representatives (as detailed within Appendix 1 of the report) alongside Member feedback on training and support received so far.
(2) To approve to the introduction of an ‘acceptable use statement’ obliging members to complete annual mandatory training on data protection (as detailed within section 5.4 of the report).
(3) To note that the Council had received London Councils’ Councillor Development Charter Plus accreditation in December 2021 and the positive feedback received as part of the assessment process. (as detailed within Appendix 2 of the report).
(4) To note the expenses claimed by Members in the course of their work in 2021-22 (as detailed within Appendix 3 of the report).
- MLD report to - Audit and Standards Advisory Committee 2022, item 8. PDF 254 KB
- 08a. Appendix 1- Members Learning and Development Draft Future Programme, item 8. PDF 390 KB
- 08b. Appendix 2- Charter Plus Assessment and Assessors Comments, item 8. PDF 452 KB
- 08c. Appendix 3- Member Expenses Claim, item 8. PDF 387 KB