South Ribble Council staff are "number one priority" after employer accreditation blow

South Ribble's staff are to be surveyed for their opinions on working at the authority
South Ribble's staff are to be surveyed for their opinions on working at the authority

South Ribble Borough Council has been downgraded by the organisation which hands out accreditations to employers, it has emerged.

The authority last year lost the “Gold” status which it had been issued by the Investors in People (IIP) organisation.

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The Labour administration at the council, elected in May, criticised their Conservative predecessors for not reporting the change in status to councillors.

“We’re very disappointed that you lost IIP Gold, as well as the staff – however, we are going to deal with it,” council leader Paul Foster said.

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But former leader of the authority, Margaret Smith, said the council was not alone in being downgraded from Gold – the second-highest rating – to the basic standard accreditation.

“The criteria changed in 2018…and apparently this happened to a lot of councils because of the variations in how the IIP was going to be taken forward.

“We were also given Gold in the health and wellbeing [category] accredited by the IIP, so we haven’t lost it all,” Cllr Smith said.

However, Cllr Foster said that it was “loud and clear” that the downgrade was a result of the IIP’s assessment of professional development at the authority.

The authority’s new corporate plan removes a previous “leadership development” programme in favour of refreshing the “corporate personal development” process for all staff.

Deputy opposition leader Caroline Moon said that while she respected the desire of the new administration to rethink the policy, she was concerned by the change in direction.

“The IIP report says the issue of the development of leadership capability is crucial to the success of the organisation,” Cllr Moon said.

But Cllr Foster said that the staff were his “number one priority”.

“We met the Local Government Association and they are supportive of the approach we’re taking – we’re having a complete refresh, starting with a new staff survey.

“We will deliver exactly what they need for professional development,” Cllr Foster added.