Thursday, 29 September 2016

Jersey Sport: The Figures

Jersey Sport: The Figures

I see that Jersey Sport Shadow Board (JSSB are suggesting a new Quango be set up to hive off Sports from the States. Their recommendation says:

“It is proposed that a fully independent, non-remunerated Board be created to develop the strategy and oversee the implementation of Jersey Sport’s activities:”

It might be remembered that the same happened with the States of Jersey Innovation Board, proposed and accepted by the States by Senator Alan Maclean as Minister for EDD. Once accepted, however, the hours – small as were – required some kind of remuneration.

“In order to retain and attract the appropriate calibre of Advisory Board member with the skills and expertise for these critical roles, some level of remuneration acknowledging the commitment is required”

Isn’t it amazing that people of very high calibre work in an honorary capacity for charities or on Parish committees but don’t ask to be paid, but somehow Quango members, for far less hours, need payment? I find it rather depressing, to be frank that there are not enough qualified islanders who have a decent sense of civic duty and would do this without payment. But we seem to live in an age where civic duty is in short supply.

In the end the board received £50,000 per annum. I think we need some cast iron guarantees that the Minister will not come back to the States once the establishment of the Quango has been agreed, and suddenly say that more funding – an “honorarium” is needed.

The recommendations of the Shadow Sports body also mention “CEO recruitment”:

“It is recommended that a competitive recruitment exercise be undertaken simultaneously both on and off island, in order to find a shortlist of high quality candidates likely to be interested in taking on such a challenge.”

“Arrangements are put in hand by EDTSC for the immediate recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer Designate who would become the CEO of Jersey Sport as soon as possible after the setting up of the entity. The JSSB will be closely involved in the recruitment process which will be overseen by Jersey Appointments Commission.”

Try as I may, I have not come across any figure given for this. Will it be more than a Chief Officer might expect? If the States of Jersey Development Company is anything to go by, removal from the States bodies responsible for setting pay and giving that into the hands of an independent committee is a recipe for paying more. And this, also, is not for a Chief Officer with other responsibilities apart from Sport, but for a CEO whose sole responsibility is sport!

As this means staff reductions, existing staff may be taken on board, but it is very unclear on what terms and arrangements, or whether they will have to reapply for their jobs – as happened with Visit Jersey:

“Within the current staff of the EDTSC Sport Development Team, there are appropriately qualified and experienced individuals capable of filling most senior roles proposed within the recommended organisational structure for Jersey Sport. It is important that the new structure, plus the opportunities that it provides individuals, are effectively communicated to existing staff, via open forums and individual meetings, in such a way that they will consider transferring to Jersey Sport, in order that their experience and skills are not lost.”

“The JSSB therefore recommends that the transfer take place by adopting the ‘Transition Model’ arrangements. Under such a scenario, Jersey Sport would make a financial contribution to transferring staff, allowing them to make their own future pensions arrangements and this has been factored into work undertaken to scope future employment Terms and Conditions.”

“The JSSB proposals put forward are - based upon discussions with States HR - the ability for the new organisation to create its own T&C’s adopting a private sector approach, somewhat different to those currently enjoyed by the existing staff as employees of the States of Jersey. This would mean staff effectively giving up States T&C’s under the ‘Transition Model’, where a transfer payment would be made to those employees who wished to transfer and were successful at interview.”

Note the weasel words “successful at interview” which are slipped in at the end. At a stroke, this gets rid of staff considered to be “dead wood”, changes the pension arrangements so that the States no longer has to fund that, or holiday pay or sickness. Instead staff will be able “to make their own pension arrangements”.

Now it is true that States departments do carry “dead wood” in staff who are not competent, and have security of tenure by virtue of being in the public sector, but this seems a very sly way of dealing with the matter; it is underhand and lacks moral integrity.

“Jersey Sport’s aim will be to pay market rates and provide good terms and conditions of employment. Similarly, it will be the philosophy of the organisation to reward individuals or teams on the achievement of their personal and collective targets and objectives. The aim is to ensure that Jersey Sport is constructed as a high performing organisation. The values set out earlier in the Report will be those expected of all future employees and along with those of openness and transparency, need to be instilled from top to bottom in the people who work for Jersey Sport.”

“It is therefore important that the JSSB continue to work with both the Department and States HR to ensure that the future of existing staff becomes ‘the number one priority’ in any proposed transfer and then implement a process and programme designed to enable a smooth transition for those individuals wishing to join the new organisation, under an internal ‘priority recruitment’ process, that allows them a period of initial exclusivity.”

This looks very like the Visit Jersey transition rather than Andium Homes where the staff were pretty well all taken over. What exactly are “market rates” for a Sports body like this? The Shadow Board’s document is very shadowy about any exact figures. It looks good on paper, but without some detailed figures, it is marketing fluff.

Going back to the CEO, we read this:

“The JSSB is aware that it needs to attract the right calibre of person to ensure success and it therefore needs to have a fair and competitive remuneration package that will encourage people from both the private and public sectors to join it.””

Which is? No figures are given, but expect the “right calibre” of person to be paid more than a State’s Chief Officer. In the meantime, an “Interim Director” is required:

“The level of detailed work required finalising the Jersey Sport proposal and the management of the whole change process requires a highly skilled and dedicated individual who has experience in the transfer of roles and responsibilities from a government department to an independently functioning entity.””

This is very much the Visit Jersey model.

Staff and CEO costs come to a figure of £710,000. But there is no split giving any indication of where the CEO sits with this:

“The budgeted figure for the CEO is a total employment cost and includes salary, a possible housing allowance if the successful candidate needs to be relocated, as well as the scope for a bonus based on performance and a pension allowance rather than the provision of an occupational pension scheme. The remaining staff costs are based on an estimate of future requirements and have included an evaluation of the current EDTSC Sport Development provision.

And they will need their own premises, properly kitted out:

“The existing EDTSC Sport Development team are currently occupying offices at Fort Regent. In terms of minimising initial costs and allowing the new CEO an opportunity to appraise longer term accommodation needs, it is proposed that the new organisation continue to be accommodated by the States of Jersey, but at a different location in order to avoid external impressions of ‘nothing has changed but the name’.”

“The pressure on Jersey Sport’s operating budget at its outset means that it will require the provision of premises rent free from States of Jersey until the end of 2018.”

And more costs, more costs:

“In addition to providing payment to the Transition Director there is a requirement for other funds to be potentially available to assist the overall objective. Specialist consultancy would be utilised for advice as to how Jersey Sport should market itself or could generate future income. “

“Legal and Professional costs alongside Recruitment fees are directly related to the practical reality of setting up the company and recruiting the CEO Designate and potentially other key roles.”

This is the timetable:

  • Create a detailed project plan to enable the implementation of Jersey Sport by 3rd April 2017;
  • Work closely with the current Community Sport Development team, the Jersey Sport Shadow Board, and stakeholders;
  • Practically implement the changes identified in ‘Sport Report’ – the plan for transition;
  • Provide financial clarity to proposals;
  • Support the CEO Designate when he/she is appointed;
  • Take lead responsibility for legacy issues allowing the CEO Designate to concentrate on forward strategic plans;
  • Research and recommend additional concepts or fundraising opportunities for Jersey Sport

If I was setting up a new business, providing financial clarity would be at the heart of the proposals, and the first thing the bank would want to see. With the States bankrolling the Quango, this is well down the list.

My recommendation: tell the Shadow Board to provide some financial clarity up front with their detailed project plan. How can it be detailed if it doesn’t have a detailed budget? It is like deciding what you want in a new house, and then after you have the plans passed, looking to see how much it will actually cost

All we have by way of costs at the moment are:

CEO and staffing £710,000

Capital Costs: Refurbishment of new premises for Jersey Sport £50,000

Purchase of IT equipment £30,000

And why on earth can’t they use the premises at Fort Regent, and make it the heart of Island Sport. 

In these times of economic austerity, the Shadow board seem to have deliberately gone for a flashy expensive newly branded Quango in new premises. Can we afford its proposals? Perhaps we can but that all important “financial clarity” should be there before proposals are approved, even in principle.

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