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Corporate Report - 2017-18

Type of document: Other reports

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Published: March 31, 2018

ILF Scotland Board Meeting
Monday 29 April 2018

Annual Operational Report ( DRAFT)
1st April 2017 - 31st March 2018


1.   Introduction5
2.   Executive Summary5
3.   Our People7
Annex A Key Statistics8

1. Introduction

The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of achievement and activities the reporting year between 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2018.

2. Operational Achievement and Activities

a.   Overview – In the last year, ILF Scotland has continued to deliver against the organisational strategy achieving a key milestone of successfully opening the Transition Fund in December 2017. Alongside this, the organisation has also been named as a Top 30 UK Employer by Working Families, the Best Public Sector Employer by Family Friendly Working Scotland and a finalist in the up and coming CIPFA UK Finance Awards. Though the successful implementation of the Scottish Living Wage has been widely welcomed, it has put further pressure on the funding available for individuals especially when other increased employment costs are factored in. We continue to work closely with colleagues in the Scottish Government and Local Authorities to mitigate against the negative impact of a combination of financial pressures on independent living outcomes.

b.   Key Operational Activities - Over this period the following key activities have taken place:

   i.   Strategic Theme 1 - The Existing Fund has been maximised for effective value:

  • Completing case reviews for current recipients to develop additional capacity and availability of operational staff to support the launch of the Transition Fund.
  • Self-audit for the General Data Protection Regulations and identification of 3rd party organisation to support ILF Scotland through the process.
  • Initial planning around adopting total quality management approaches with Quality Scotland, including becoming members committed to excellence.
  • Extensive project work to enable the successful automatic Scottish Living Wage uplift for all eligible recipients for the first time in the history of ILF.
  • Being a Cyber Catalyst organisation for the Scottish Government and preparing to meet the requirements of the Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.
  • Full ICT internal audit successfully completed with an overall finding of “robust”.
  • Further work with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Scottish Social Security Agency (SSSA) for the technical solution with ILF Scotland becoming an embedded partner.
  • Working through submissions for policy changes connected to the 2015 fund.
  • Completing the end of year financial accounts and strengthening financial procedures, processes and systems.
  • Improving systems for the 2015 Fund.
  • Full review of all HR polices, process and systems through the lens of both legislation and accessibility.
  • Staff survey carried out for the second year demonstrating further progress against the strategic objectives of being an employer of choice.
  • Agreed and implemented new pay structure in line with the Scottish Government system.

   ii.   Strategic Theme 2 - A New ILF scheme is successfully introduced and established in Scotland:

  • The successful the launch of the Transition Fund with the main activity focusing on receiving and evaluating the new applications. Behind the scenes significant work has continued with the preparations for the new web service and re- assessment against the Digital First government standard.
  • Continued engagement with professional colleagues, DPOs and key organisations involved in supporting good transitions for the Transition Fund across Scotland.
  • Extensive legal and compliance work around the Transition Fund policy suite, including development of the data protection and privacy impact assessment.

   iii.   Strategic Theme 3 -   The knowledge gained through our work across all of Scotland and Northern Ireland has been shared to develop best practice:

  • Online forum developed for recipients and stakeholders.
  • Newsletter drafted to be sent out early in the first quarter of 2018-2019.
  • Provisional work carried out to map ILF Scotland outcomes to National Outcomes for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Numerous engagement events/meetings held in relation to both the 2015 and Transition Fund with key stakeholders.
  • New social work relationships established.
  • Attendance on various strategic groups involved in the set-up of the Social Security Agency sharing our knowledge of the journey so far.
  • New Google Analytics reporting suite launched.
  • Award submissions completed.

c.   Main Effort - The key operational activities are outlined above, however the main effort has been to launch and run the Transition Fund alongside improving the 2015 Fund.

d.   2015 Fund Numbers - Table 1 below shows that the 2015 Fund recipient numbers have dropped from 3,119 (Scotland 2,678 & NI 528) to 2,961 over the reporting year (Scotland 2,466 & NI 496). This represents an overall decline in recipient numbers of 5% per annum (Scotland 4.9% & NI 7%) which broadly follows the trends of the previous year:

Table 1 – Recipient Numbers 2017/2018

e  2015 Fund Operational Performance – Table 2 below shows that the operational tempo remained relatively constant overall with the main activities of visits and reports dropping by over 40% due to the launch of the Transition Fund, but offset by an increase of 55% in offers made due to the implementation of the Scottish Living Wage uplift. In addition to this, the average time from referral to offer completion has reduced by 5 days or 3% overall. This is despite a significant increase in the time spent to review and agree the package of support due to the wider challenges of incorrect benefits, reduced local authority staffing, budget cuts and upward pressures on costs.

Table 2 – Visits, Reports and Offers 2017/2018

e.   Transition Operational Performance – Table 3 below shows the operational figures since the fund opened on the 20th December. There has been a steady growth in numbers over the months receiving a total of 126 applications. What is clear from the applications is they are definitely hitting the intended target audience for the scheme, however anecdotal evidence suggests that the message is still filtering out and potential applicants are waiting to see how the scheme progresses before putting in a submission. In terms of processing time, it is taking 50 days on average to process, evaluate and inform an applicant of a decision on their submission. This is 40% quicker than the provisional target set of 12 weeks and we believe this can be greatly reduced with various continuous improvement initiatives planned in 2018/2019. That said as we are using a paper based/downloadable application which takes on average of 12 hours to process each application. Again we believe that significant efficiencies will be gained with the launch of the online application later in 2018. Lastly, it is still early to draw any meaningful conclusions from the operational performance statistics, however they provide a useful baseline for future reporting periods and indicate a strong start to this scheme.

Table 3 – Transition Fund Operational Performance

Note: Looking at the current trends in applications withdrawn and declined, coupled with a review of the submissions in the system, the total liability for 2017/18 in financial terms is expected to be £350k.

g.   ILF Scotland Transition Fund – The ILF Scotland Transition Fund was launched to a controlled cohort of 500 people on 20th December 2017. This saw an application form either being sent to the applicant by post or available as an online form. Of note, the opening prior to the end of the 3rd quarter ensured that a Ministerial commitment was delivered and young disabled individuals in Scotland would have the opportunity to access this fund. ILF Scotland, Scottish Government colleagues and the Central Legal Services (CLO) from the NHS worked incredibly hard to achieve the sign off of a complete policy suite for the fund. On the technical side, the web service was tested and completed, but due to the findings from Digital First Assessment in October 2017, ILF Scotland decided it was necessary to undertake further work on this area to ensure successful implementation which is due to be completed in 2018/2019. Moving on, development of the web front end service, database portal, ICI Group 3, a new enquiries database and call logging system have all been introduced and refined in the later part of the reporting period. Additionally, significant testing has taken place and the results confirmed that the new service meets with the expectations of the core user group (i.e. young disabled people). Alongside the above, a significant amount of work was done around the governance of the fund, including the implications of GDPR , the production of a privacy impact assessment and working with the NHS Counter Fraud Team to ensure the risk of misuse of funds is minimal. In addition, the following work was carried out:

  • A specific cross functional team has been set up to map out and detail how the Transition Fund will operate and how an application will be evaluated.
  • A comprehensive training plan has been implemented to prepare all front line staff in receiving and approving new applications. This has focused on the policy suite, the new technology and person centred planning.
  • A small group has been established to focus on quality assurance and standardisation of evaluating the new applications.
  • The formal response to the Digital First Assessment findings has been made, which has seen the development of a revised project plan and operational support model for the new digital service. Part of the sustainability model integrates into our wider digital transformation and continuous improvement activities. This will also fold back learning and improvements into how the 2015 Fund is operated where opportunities are identified.

h.   Transition Fund Applications Received – The table below shows where the applications have been received to date and provides a good basis for a targeted communications campaign in the next reporting period. In terms of requests, we are being asked for a variety of things as shown by the following list:

  • Driving lessons
  • Horse Riding Lessons
  • Activity weekends
  • Technology, e.g. laptops, computers, tablets
  • Gym memberships
  • Music lessons/therapy
  • Sports coaching
  • Independent travel assistants
  • PA support
  • Equipment, e.g. specialist wheelchairs
  • Ski Holiday
  • On line course – game design
  • Elliptical Trainer
  • Singing Lessons
  • Ski lessons
  • Scottish Youth theatre summer course
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Finance a move from halls of residence into private rented accommodation
Table 4 – Geographic Spread of Applications

i.   Call Volumes - Call and email volumes have decreased in 2017/2018 to 8,339 (7,335 telephone and 1,004 email enquiries) from 9,332 (8,347 telephone and 895 email enquiries) in the 2016/2017. Anecdotally this is thought to be due to better communications with stakeholders coupled with more relevant information of the website. However we have launched a comprehensive analytics platform and will be rolling out more comprehensive feedback system to evidence the reasons behind future increases or decreases in call volumes. Of these, over 90% of all enquiries relate to Scotland and the main areas of query are as follows:

  • Reassessment visits;
  • requests for information from Assessors;
  • LA calls for information – payment schedule, threshold sums, etc;
  • completion of agreement forms;
  • Scottish Living Wage;
  • Auto pension enrolment;
  • payments and payment increase requests;
  • Transition fund;
  • general (this includes confirmation of information not covered above, new fund enquiries and general information about the organisation).

j.   Recipients - What continues to be reinforced through all our activities and highlighted in previous reports, is the challenging time disabled people are experiencing in trying to have choice and control about decisions in their lives. The compound impact of the Scottish Living Wage, charging policies, the National Living Wage and increased employer related costs for both those that employ staff directly and use care providers, is significant and is reducing the amount of support available to individuals.

k.   Feedback - The satisfaction rating we have received from recipients regarding the service for the 2015 Fund has decreased slightly from 99% in 2016/17 (186 responses representing 9% of all offers made) to 98% in 2017/18 (58 responses representing 5% of all offers made excluding the automatic Scottish Living Wage uplift). To improve the depth of and quantity of feedback received we intend on implementing a new feedback system in 2018/2019. Feedback for the Transition Fund has not been received in during this period and this will follow in subsequent reports.

l.   Scottish Living Wage Implementation – A major project was carried out in the first quarter including the automatic uplift of approximately 2,400 eligible recipients. Over the following quarters we have continued to work through any issues as a consequence of this, with the main one being individuals being pushed to the maximum award threshold. This has meant that additional visits have been required to review packages of around 200 individuals aiming to minimise the impact of increased costs of the number of hours of support.

m.   Social Work - Despite the significant pull on resources with the development and launch of the Transition Fund on Social work teams, we have moved into our second cycle of bi-annual reviews in Scotland and NI ahead of schedule. Work carried out in this reporting period has been aligned to the three strategic themes:

   i.   Maximising the effectiveness of the 2015 fund - Our key task of review visits and rebalancing of support plans to reflect the additionality of ILF Scotland funding progressed well in most local authorities during 2017/2018, despite significant cost pressures to care packages. A plan is in place to visit specific Local Authority partners to redress the last elements of historic imbalances inherited from our antecedent UK wide public body. Northern Ireland is now rolling out Self Directed Support to its 5 Health and Social Care Trust areas and we will be working closely with them to re-enforcing additionality of ILF support. We have seen a step change in the complexity of Assessor reviews over the last year, which has seen a 30% increase in time spent in working through the issues. These are mainly grouped around: incorrect benefits due to DWP errors; mitigating the negative impact of increased employment costs; the inconsistent implementation of SDS nationally; the upward pressure on statutory partners budgets; and, increasingly, ILF recipients reaching the maximum award. We expect these issues to get more problematic with ever increasing costs and are working with the Scottish Government to look at possible solutions to ease the pressure.

   ii.   Deliver a New Fund - All assessors contributed to the opening of the Transition Fund with significant input to the implementation group and engagement events. Assessors are part of a bi-weekly evaluation panel on an on-going basis, providing professional advice and support to caseworker colleagues. The Assessor Team have embraced the practice and role changes brought by the Transition Fund, e.g. a new type of intervention in the visits to applicants and a new role supporting colleagues in evaluation of applications. The impact on 2015 fund reviews is being managed by a greater focus on throughput and increased capacity within the team.

   iii.   Share our knowledge and develop best practice - At a strategic level, the Head of Social Work is now a permanent member of Scotland’s Adult Social Care Committee and is involved in several national initiatives relevant to ILF Scotland practice. Meetings with the senior managers and equality networks of Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland have produced new partnerships and promote better transitions at local levels in several areas. At a local level across all 37 partnerships and trusts in Scotland and Northern Ireland, ILF Scotland has delivered input to local teams and/or lead officers. This rolling programme of engagement is vital to ensure improved relationships, thus leading to better-quality outcomes for fund recipients is maintained. Following meetings with officers within the new Scottish Social Security Agency, ILF Scotland assessment models will be shared in 2018, raising and supporting their ambition of ensuring person-centred assessment is an intrinsic part of the operational model.

n.   Policy – The Policy Team has continued to focus on promoting consistency in the application of policies in decision making, whilst also ensuring decisions are tailored to individual circumstances:

  • A further revision of Policy 4 has submitted in January 2018. Ministerial approval is sought to reduce the cap to £70 to be implemented this financial year, to further reduce to £42 as soon as the ILF Scotland budget can withstand the additional costs associated and to grant powers of waiver on specified circumstances associated with terminal illness, financial hardship and poverty.
  • Policy 20 on maximum award has been reviewed and proposals will be submitted in January 2018 for Ministerial approval. The implementation of a reduction in Available Income charges, coupled with the implementation of SLW including other employer liabilities, such as pension auto-enrolment and inflation, has resulted in a significantly reduced value of the maximum award, with some recipients unable to cover their existing and new commitments. The result is a reduction in care or a referral to statutory services for a reassessment.
  • Number of Discretionary Decisions – 63.
  • Decision Reviews -1.
  • Number of Complaints – 3.
  • The Team have led on a Policy and Implementation Working Group to develop a suite of polices for the ILF Scotland Transition Fund. This has been a major priority and the primary focus of the policy team in this quarter. The policies have been completed and were authorised by the Minister for the Transition Fund launch in December 17.

o.   IT, Digital Transformation and Continuous Improvement – The Digital Transformation has continued on two fronts for ILF Scotland with the introduction of the new Transition Fund Web Service and our Cyber Catalyst role for Scottish Government. The back office systems have worked well to receive, process and evaluate the applications for the new fund, but the paper based approach has introduced time delays to processing which will not be an issue when the web service becomes live. The project team to deliver the technical solution has been increased and most of the work has focused on the upgrade of the infrastructure ready to deploy the new web service. Further user acceptance testing has been planned once new service is deployed and the results of this will feed into the Digital First re-assessment. At the first assessment gaps were identified in the coverage of the support provided by Scottish Government iTECS and the new technical support requirements. This has led to a review of the technical infrastructure, support contracts and staffing model required to support the management and operation of a new government standard digital service. ILF Scotland has been able to share its learning from the D1 assessment to help develop the new standard, and has been part of the small working group for Scottish Government to assist in the Cyber Resilience strategy for Scotland. This has also included advising on cloud adoption strategies and cloud migration. Overall, work in the ICT space has been significant and has developed both the infrastructure and staff model to support the launch of a new, customer focused digital service in 2018 and to be a lead Scottish cyber resilient organisation.

p.   Finance – This has been another strong year from a financial perspective with another clear external audit, further strengthening of finance systems and being shortlisted for the UK Public Sector Finance Award for Finance Team of the Year. Specific financial information is found separately in the management accounts and other key achievements or activities of note are as follows:

  • Paid over 97% of invoices within 10 days.
  • All payments on time with no errors.
  • Finalised new debt recovery process.
  • Streamlined the collection of unspent monies and overpayments.
  • Financial Management - produced a 4 yearly forecast for the Award Budget for both Scotland & NI Governments.
  • Submitted Annual Accounts and Reports to Companies House.

q.   Corporate Communications – Significant progress has been made in the area of corporate communications over this reporting period with a 49% increase in website views this year (25,997 in 2016/2017 compared to 51,147 in 2017/2018). There has also been a 51% increase in our online reach from 6,388 new users in 2016/2017 to 13,076 in 2017/2018. With regards to social media, the Twitter followers have increased from 719 in 2016/2017 to 1,056 in 2017/2018 and our Facebook presence has gone from 81 likes to 202. Following the opening of the Transition Fund, the Communications team have established an Instagram account and will look to develop this further as part of the strategy for 2018/2019. On a like for like basis this is a 49% increase in online activity from the previous year. The Communications Team have largely focused on the implementation of ILF Scotland’s second key strategic objective of ‘Introducing and establishing a new ILF Scheme in Scotland’ (now known as the Transition Fund). Specifically, the following activities have been undertaken and accomplished throughout the year:

  • Establishing and successfully implementing a specific communications strategy for the introduction of the Transition Fund.
  • Development, design and implementation of the Transition Fund Application Form.
  • Development, design and implementation of supplementary Transition Fund marketing materials, including a supporting information leaflet, ‘Your Responsibilities’ guide, etc.
  • Establishing accessible versions of the application form and all supplementary marketing materials, i.e. easy read, BSL, etc.
  • Development, design and implementation of Transition Fund website structure and content.
  • Development and implementation of social media content and online newsletter mail outs to all relevant stakeholders to promote the Fund.
  • Establishing media coverage (in co-ordination with the Scottish Government) around the launch of the Transition Fund.
  • Attendance at a number of engagement events to promote the Transition Fund, i.e. New College Lanarkshire Transitions event.

r.   Summary – This has been another strong year, delivering further progress against our strategic plan with the launch of the new Transition Fund and improvements to the 2015 Fund. ILF Scotland’s Business Plan for 2018/2019 articulates the detailed priorities for the coming year.

3. Our People

a.   Overview – During this year we have continued to strengthen our approach and systems relating to HR and organisational development, to ensure our employee proposition is inclusive, life friendly, market leading and skills appropriate. This also included finalising agreeing the pay structure with the Scottish Government. Of particular note ILF Scotland has became a Top 30 UK wide employer in the Working Families 2017 Benchmark and the Best Public Sector Employer at the 2018 Family Friendly Working Scotland Awards.

b.   Organisational Demography – From April 2017 to March 2018, the organisational make up consisted of 51 staff and Directors who were engaged in a combination of part-time, full-time, freelance contracts and one student placement. The current gender mix was 73:27 female: male, with 18% of staff registered disabled, 8% BME and 4% LGBT.

c.   Recruitment - Since April 2017, we have strengthened the staff team with the following appointments:

  • 3 x Freelance Assessors ( now moved to employed Assessor)
  • 1 x Business & Project Administrator (1.0 FTE)
  • 1 x Social Work Student Placement (6 months)(1.0 FTE)- completed successfully
  • 1 x IT and Systems Improvement Officer (0.5 FTE)- (1 year secondment to June 2018)
  • 1 x Communications Officer
  • 1 x Scottish Government Secondment (1 FTE -Business Administrator) extended indefinitely
  • 1 x Specialist Caseworker and 1 x Operations Administrator (temp for 12 months to support the Transition Fund).
  • 1 x Head of Policy – recruitment on-going

d.   Employment status - To foster a people friendly approach, ILF Scotland offers different contractual opportunities to all individuals employed in some capacity with the organisation. To date 1 x Assessor remains with a freelance contract, all others have been offered and accepted part/full-time employment contracts offering stability to the organisation at a time of growth and change.

e.   Retention - Staff retention has remained strong during the last year with 2 staff leaving. 1 x retirement and 1 x moved to a promoted post within the Scottish Government.

f.   Absence – Sickness rates have recently risen slightly since last year with several longer absences. The current rate is 4.6 days per person per annum which still is approximately 50% of the average public sector benchmark in the 2017 CIPD survey. To identify the appropriate support and enable colleagues to return to work more speedily, we have also carried 5 x OH Referrals in this reporting period.

g.   Disciplinary, Grievance and Performance – 7 grievances received and resolved. 5 x Pay Award. 2 x other (both withdrawn).

h.   Staff Survey – A Staff Survey Working Group completed work following the 2016 Staff Survey, implementing a quarterly internal newsletter to address the most prominent issue raised in the staff survey. The caseworkers and assessors team identified the requirement to feed in relevant practice, policy and other appropriate communicable information. The Staff Survey for 2017 has been completed, collated and distributed recently. This shows a 20% improvement across 4 key areas of achievement, control over work, location and benefits. This also shows the positive impact of ILF Scotland’s life friendly approach and inclusive culture.

i.   Supporting Activity - to enable the organisation to successfully deliver the strategy and be an employer of choice, the following activity has taken place:

  • All Assessors and some Caseworkers attended CPAG Benefits training, and Child Protection Training.
  • The personal development review process for 2018 is well underway for all employed staff. Staff development needs will be taken forward on a one to one basis with line managers to include up skilling through mentoring, shadowing, training, on job learning etc. The 2018 personal development review will be completed by February 2019.
  • Learning & Development Policy implemented at the end of June 2017.
  • The majority of staff attended Mental Health Awareness Training and Personal Resilience Training. This will be provided at regular intervals for the foreseeable future.
  • 3 x Board Directors and new staff attended Disability Equality Training.
  • Office staff and Board Directors attended 1 x Assessment Review with an ILF recipient to reinforce our values.
  • Recognition Agreement signed between ILF Scotland and PCS Union.
  • 2017 Annual Data Protection eTraining for all staff completed.
  • 1 x staff member invited as part of a panel at the Working Families Conference.
  • 6 x staff members attended the Social Work Scotland Conference.
  • 2 x staff members attended the Fathers Network Scotland meeting to share good practice.
  • 2 x staff members attended ACAS HR Courses (Effective Skills for Line Managing & Conducting Discipline and Grievance Investigations, Recruitment & Selection Training (ACAS)).
  • 3 x staff members BCS Certificate in Information Security Management Principles – Course in February 2018.
  • Cyber Security for Executives Training for 2 members of Audit and Risk Committee and managers on 4th December 2017.
  • COO and Executive Business Manager met with the HR, Learning & Development Manager for the Social Security Scotland Implementation Team to share set-up practices and learning from ILF Scotland.
  • All staff attended a successful and informative Transition Fund Development Day at GCiL.
  • All Assessors – Training on Lone Working Policy and Reliance Safety Fob.
  • Assessors /Caseworkers – All staff involved in the Transition Fund undertook Person Centred Planning and signposting.
  • All Assessors and Caseworkers - Child Protection Training.
  • Several attendees at GDPR conferences in preparation for May 2018. 1 x staff member attending GDPR Practitioner Course.
  • Review of employee proposition for 2018/19.
  • Preliminary research into transferring staff on to a defined benefit scheme in 2018.
  • 1 x JEGS Evaluation Training for HR Manager.
  • 2 day bespoke HR training for all managers on 16/17 April.
  • 2 x Server Querying Data course (SQL training).
  • 1 x Prince 2 Foundation.
  • 6 x Directors – Annual appraisals completed by Chair.

j.   Health and Safety – there have been no reportable incidents over the last year and the following activity has taken place:

  • Annual Audit completed successfully in July- by Navigator Health & Safety
  • In advance of Transition Fund launch, Lone Working Policy and Protocols set up and active from Monday 18th December 2017 using Reliance Protect system.
  • Healthy Working Lives Award– working towards Bronze and thereafter Silver in 2018.

Annex A - Key Statistics

The following table shows the key statistics for the period 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018 and are aligned to standard annual financial reporting cycles as ILF Scotland is now in steady state operations. It does not include Transition Fund which is reported separately at present.

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