Agenda item

Finance Department Restructure Proposals


The Chair asked Members if they would agree to change the Agenda order so that the Finance Department Restructure Proposals could be presented and discussed first. Members agreed to this.


The Executive Director of Corporate Resources outlined the key issues in the report: that there was a need to improve the quality of the Council’s finance service on a permanent basis; that there were currently a high number of interim staff in the finance department; and that the proposed restructure would follow proper process to recruit through the autumn and following a handover period interim staff would leave in spring 2023 with a new permanent team in place.


Currently about half the finance department were interim with only one permanent member of staff at senior management level. Comparative data was given in the report in terms of finance staffing levels compared with two other councils of similar size to Slough, one in the North West and one close by. The proposed new structure gave higher staff numbers in Slough comparatively,  the Executive Director explained that this was because Slough currently faced issues in its finance function that the other Councils did not, and the higher number of staff proposed was appropriate to the need.


The Executive Director explained that staff potentially affected by the restructure had been pre-briefed before details of the report became public.


Members asked a number of questions around the recruitment process, and whether internal as well as external recruitment was planned. The Executive Director advised that internal recruitment would take place initially, with all posts open to all staff to apply, in July-August. There would be an assessment process for potential staff followed by appointment and some successful applicants would also have development plans in place where needed, as the aim was to upskill existing staff where possible. External candidates would then go through the same assessment process in September and be appointed if successful. The proposal was for all interim staff to leave by the end of March 2023.


More external recruitment would be necessary for senior level positions. In answer to a concern that the proposed new structure was geared towards more senior positions the Executive Director explained that the right people at senior level was vital to get the finance function in the strongest position going forward. With modern developments and ways of working lower level work was increasingly done by robotics and intelligence, so a lower number of staff would be needed.


Members raised the point that lessons needed to be learned from previous experiences where officers often got the blame for organisational failings, and that it was important that the right people were held accountable. Members also asked whether there was an alternative plan if the recruitment did not attract suitable candidates. The Executive Director advised that the alternative would be a continuation of interim staff, as the Council would not be able to function without a finance team and any other alternatives would be too costly.


The Chair acknowledged that the report and the restructure proposal was important, but requested that such reports be provided to the Committee with more notice in future. This was noted.


Resolved – that the Committee:

a)  Note the consultation process for the revised structure for the Finance and Commercial services department to include the addition of a number of new posts.

b)  Recommend to Full Council the approval of a new chief officer role of Executive Director of Finance and Commercial, and two new deputy chief officer roles with remuneration of potentially over £100,000 to replace the one Associate Director – Finance and Commercial, and delegate authority to the Monitoring Officer to amend Article 12, Part 3.6 and Part 7 of the Constitution accordingly.

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