6. Strategic Priority 5 – Effective Governance and Performance
SFRS should ensure it has an effective approach to performance management to support robust scrutiny of the Service at national and local levels. This approach should be regularly reviewed and evaluated in pursuit of continuous improvement. SFRS should also collect, produce and analyse data and other intelligence to inform actions to promote the safety and well-being of communities, support operational efficiency and performance improvements (including its partnership contributions) and enable effective public reporting of performance.
Effective governance, strong accountability and resilient performance are at the heart of good public services. SFRS should clearly contribute to Scotland’s National Outcomes.
SFRS must ensure that it meets the requirements of its governance and accountability arrangements as set out in the agreed Scottish Government and SFRS Governance and Accountability Framework. It is also essential that SFRS effectively monitors and evaluates its performance in delivering the strategic priorities set out in this document. A key factor in achieving that delivery will be continued investment in maintaining the health, safety and well-being and improving the capabilities, capacity and performance of its workforce.
SFRS should ensure it has an effective approach to performance management to support robust scrutiny of the Service at national and local levels. This approach should be regularly reviewed and evaluated in pursuit of continuous improvement. SFRS should also collect, produce and analyse data and other intelligence to promote the safety and well-being of communities, support operational efficiency and performance improvements (including its partnership contributions) and enable effective public reporting of performance.
Good service performance and effective accountability, both nationally and locally, is reliant on the ability to demonstrate the delivery of continuous improvement through comprehensive, timely performance reporting arrangements and a robust approach to analysis and evaluation. SFRS should continue to develop its performance systems to ensure the data collecting is still the most appropriate and it should report publicly on its key indicators on a regular basis. Reports should be open and transparent, and provide the Scottish Government and key stakeholders with accurate, timely and consistent data and information, from which they can assess whether SFRS's management arrangements are effective in ensuring it is performing well, providing value for money and delivering all across Scotland.
As set out in Strategic Priority 3 on ’Innovation and Modernisation’, all proposed changes and improvements to the service SFRS provides should be made on the basis of sound evidence. SFRS performance management systems should therefore play a critical role in providing that evidence and in turn driving improvement across the organisation.
SFRS should continue to develop methodologies and systems to collect, collate and analyse data in order to understand future trends and enable resources to be targeted where they are needed most and where they can add the greatest value. SFRS should ensure that it makes appropriate use of comparable data to benchmark its performance.
SFRS must, in discussion with the Scottish Government, specify appropriate performance measures to support its Strategic Plan, for the delivery of outcomes relating to the strategic priorities and objectives set out in this Framework.
SFRS should base its Annual Performance Review report on the priorities set out in this Framework in addition to the evidence obtained through its performance management systems. In order to ensure its activity is making a positive impact on outcomes for communities, SFRS should also monitor and report on its performance over a 3-5 year period.
SFRS should continue to ensure it is accountable to the communities it serves through its network of Local Senior Officers, local scrutiny committees and the involvement of Local Authority elected officials.
The 2005 Act (as amended by the 2012 Act) sets out the duties of SFRS in securing Best Value for the people of Scotland. The delivery of an effective and efficient service is set within the context of establishing appropriate governance structures by which the organisation is directed and controlled to achieve objectives. The 'Governance and Accountability Framework', sets out the governance structures within which SFRS will operate and defines the key roles and responsibilities for SFRS and the Scottish Government. As set out in the Governance and Accountability Framework, SFRS should follow the guidance set out in the Scottish Public Finance Manual and be able to demonstrate fulfilment of its Best Value duty to secure continuous improvement in the performance of the organisation’s functions.
To respond effectively to the changing public sector environment in Scotland and to meet the expectations set out in this Framework, SFRS should maintain its strong commitment to strategic and financial planning to assure the long term sustainability of the functions it delivers. SFRS should clearly communicate to internal and external stakeholders the outcomes it is working towards, what the intended objectives and goals of those outcomes are, and how its resources will be used efficiently and effectively to achieve those outcomes.
SFRS's Role as a Public Body
SFRS must follow the expectations and requirements set out in the Scottish Government Public Bodies Guidance. As one of the larger public bodies in Scotland SFRS should be an exemplar organisation in terms of following good governance and assurance, board members’ and staff codes of conduct, succession planning and strategic engagement with government, other bodies and the third sector.
The SFRS Board provides strategic leadership for SFRS, which includes ensuring the highest standards of governance are complied with; that SFRS complies with all Ministerial guidance, its agreed Framework documents (including this document) and legislation; and that prudent and effective controls are in place to enable risks to be assessed and managed. The Chief Officer, with a full range of delegated responsibilities, gives the Board assurance on delivering its stated outcomes and objectives, as set out in the SFRS Strategic Plan. The Board, as the legal entity of SFRS, gives further assurance to Scottish Ministers that its outcomes and objectives have been realised by the Service.
The SFRS Board has responsibility to take into account the local needs, including the views of Local Authorities when providing governance and oversight of the response the Service provides. The Board should continue to build relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including business and community groups.
SFRS should ensure its Board meetings are accessible to the public across the whole of Scotland and are carried out in the spirit of openness, including the publication of Board papers and minutes of proceedings.
SFRS's planning should ensure clear alignment of priorities and objectives as a national organisation while being flexible enough to respond to differing local needs across Scotland. It is essential to recognise the changing risks and threats facing communities in terms of the demands of its operating environment. SFRS should ensure its employees fully understand their individual and collective contribution to the organisation’s objectives and know what is expected of them as part of its planning and operational delivery processes.
7. Strategic Priority 6 - People
SFRS should continue to be a Fair Work employer and develop as an employer of choice. It should promote the equality, safety and physical and mental health of all its staff. SFRS should continue to maximise the effectiveness of its approach to workforce and succession planning and should be a learning organisation with equal opportunities for all. SFRS should ensure it enables innovation and change through its People Strategy. SFRS should actively strive to be an organisation that is more representative of the people and communities of Scotland that it serves.
SFRS should aim to have in place an appropriate workforce structure and systems which will prepare all those working in the Service, through robust and tailored development programmes, to develop its capability to meet current and future needs. SFRS should continue to actively develop the culture of the organisation to embrace the values of being inclusive, diverse and fair and ensure these are fully embedded across the whole workforce. To do this, the Service must invest in its current workforce and plan for the type of workforce it will need in the future.
Scotland’s Fair Work Approach
The Scottish Government’s vision, shared by the Fair Work Convention, is for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025. The strategic ambitions for Fair Work are set out in the Fair Work Convention’s Framework, which underpins the government’s Fair Work Action Plan. As a public body, SFRS is expected to take a leading role in adopting and promoting Fair Work, by applying the fair work criteria to drive improvement, namely: appropriate channels for effective voice, such as trade union recognition; investment in workforce development; no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; action to tackle the gender pay gap and create a more diverse and inclusive workplace; and continued payment of the real Living Wage.
SFRS adapted quickly to the need for staff to work from home whenever possible during the Covid19 pandemic including making best use of technology to facilitate this change. It should build on the lessons learned from the flexible working arrangements and use of technology which were developed during this period in considering future flexible working patterns for staff.
SFRS will also be expected to adopt further criteria that the Scottish Government may introduce to address particular labour market challenges as the economy evolves.
Skills and Changing Needs
SFRS should consider what skills its workforce may need to acquire or develop further in order to maximise their contribution to the Service's modernisation and to meet the changing needs of local communities. SFRS must ensure that the workforce maintains competence to deliver core duties in addition to developing skills to meet the changing requirements of the services it delivers, thus maximising its ability to contribute to improved outcomes for the communities and people of Scotland. It should consider the right mix of expertise in fire and rescue and corporate functions to best deliver a forward looking 21st Century Fire and Rescue Service.
SFRS must ensure its operational firefighters are properly trained and equipped to undertake the professional duties it expects of them. It is therefore essential that SFRS regularly reviews training capacity against demand. SFRS should ensure there is sufficient training capacity and investment in people and resources to ensure staff are competent in any new or adapted roles they will be expected to undertake.
SFRS staff deal with a broad range of the public often in challenging and dangerous situations, so it is essential that its staff are trauma informed and recognise the importance of being person focused in the services they provide. It is crucial that all levels of staff in SFRS treat each other and those they serve, with dignity and respect along with recognising the importance of diversity and this should be reflected in the training staff receive.
To maximise the impact of training whilst minimising the time spent away from operational duties, SFRS should ensure its whole workforce, wherever in Scotland they are based, have full access to the training and development they need to deliver their role.
In adapting and developing services, the skills needed by staff will change over time, and it is therefore crucial that SFRS considers future needs as it evolves its learning and development functions.
SFRS should look to develop training in collaboration with other blue light partners. This is particularly relevant for strategic leadership training and other aspects common across the partners.
As a learning organisation, SFRS must identify opportunities for learning from its past actions, including operational incidents, and ensure that lessons learned are shared across the organisation and become embedded in future behaviour.
SFRS should work in partnership with other organisations to maximise learning and sharing of best practice, including joint multi-agency debriefing and training for responding to a range of incidents. It is crucial that SFRS not only identifies learning but also integrates that learning into long term change and improvement. It therefore needs to embrace a culture of openness to learn from past actions, particularly with a focus on the outcomes of those actions.
Succession and Workforce Planning
Succession plans, acknowledging the skills, experience and knowledge that it will require in the future should be developed in the context of SFRS's own Strategic Plan and the Strategic People and Organisational Development Plan and should provide value in wider organisational business planning than just recruitment. SFRS is facing an aging workforce and must ensure it does not lose expertise and corporate memory when staff retire. As a fair work employer, SFRS must engage with trade unions and directly with staff along with utilising appropriate internal and external expertise in designing and delivering its succession plans. The Service should set out what it will do, how it will do it and how it will monitor progress, recognising existing strengths.
Health, Wellbeing and Safety
Operational fire and rescue activity does come with risks to firefighter safety and in carrying out those activities, firefighters can be exposed to dangers and traumatic experiences. In addition, the Covid19 pandemic has added further stress and anxiety to everyone’s lives, with many people suffering from bereavement. SFRS should continue to give the highest priority to the safety, physical and mental health and well-being of its staff and those they serve and protect by encouraging a culture of health and well-being; and by providing and maintaining systems to support and enhance well-being and safety at work.
SFRS should ensure that it takes a collaborative approach on matters of staff safety, health and mental well-being, and that participation and involvement of employees and their representatives is undertaken when identifying, resolving and improving policy and related practice. This should ensure that workforce development, promoting health and well-being and harmonious industrial relations remain priorities.
Equalities and Human Rights
SFRS must, in terms of its obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998, act in accordance with the European Convention for Human Rights. SFRS must also comply with the Equality Act 2010 and the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012. Under the general duty within the Equality Act 2010, SFRS must have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and people that do not share it. The regulations further specify the actions public bodies are expected to take in meeting this duty. SFRS should ensure that its strategic planning, decision making and reporting demonstrates how equality issues are considered, including as an element of SFRS's improvement processes.
SFRS must ensure that equality is mainstreamed across all functions of the Service. SFRS must set, review and report on progress of equality outcomes designed to meet the aims of workforce and board diversity and service provision. Information on the profile of personnel across the protected characteristics must be monitored and reported on, together with other relevant information such as the gender pay gap. SFRS must ensure publication of a statement outlining policies on equal pay between men and women, persons who are disabled and who are not, and persons who fall into a minority racial group and persons who do not. SFRS should also continue to develop systems and processes that will ensure that the equality performance of suppliers is assessed through the procurement process. As part of its work to address equality issues, SFRS should remain an accredited Living Wage Employer and encourage the uptake of Modern Apprentices across the organisation in recognition of wider Scottish Government aspirations.
Building on SFRS Equality and Diversity Charter and the Scottish Government’s Fair Work principles, SFRS should work towards achieving the Scottish Government's ambition of a fairer society with a diverse operational workforce. SFRS should promote workforce diversity through positive action on recruitment, retention and promotion to encourage greater involvement of under-represented groups to develop a workforce that greater reflects the population of Scotland in terms of characteristics such as sex, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability and gender reassignment. SFRS should support youth employment and engage and contribute with other organisations that support youth employment.
SFRS should continually benchmark against other Fire and Rescue Services and similar emergency services along with other public bodies and private organisations to ensure it is leading the way on equality outcomes along with making sure learning and initiatives are taken on board.
Historically firefighters were predominately male and SFRS has been working towards the aim of a balanced workforce with an increase in the number of female firefighters. Despite efforts over recent years to address these equality issues, work needs to continue in this regard and SFRS will require to have a sustained effort over the coming years to achieve a fully balanced workforce. There is clear consensus that increasing diversity in the Boardroom and in senior leadership roles encourages new and innovative thinking, maximises use of talent and leads to better business decisions and governance. The Scottish Government encourages public, private and third sector organisations to sign up to the Partnerships for Change. Succession planning is critical to ensure that Boards have the skills and diversity of contribution they need to address future challenges and priorities. A key challenge for SFRS is to identify its Board's skills and diversity requirements over the medium and long-term as part of its corporate planning process, and develop a strategy for meeting these. Aligning the profile of skills of the Board members with the Strategic Plan will ensure that the Board has the right skills to deal with future business as the work of the Service evolves; and importantly how the Service plans to ensure that happens.
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