Performance analysis 2020/21: Goal four

Goal four

To provide value for money, making best use of our resources and expertise to deliver services that are attuned to what matters most to voters.

This goal provides a focus to activities that support the organisation and ensure we have the appropriate skilled people, resources, technology, systems and governance. The aim is to deliver services that are efficient, effective and economical. 

Key achievements

To support our organisation, we:

  • implemented our new accountability arrangements with the Scottish Parliament and Senedd which come into effect 1 April 2021.
  • reviewed and refreshed how we deliver legal services 
  • supported staff with the challenges of home working through the pandemic, while continuing to support our stakeholders and deliver on the organisation’s priorities
  • implemented our new People Strategy to support the best use of our resources 
  • commenced an internal consultation on our new Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy and approach
  • set up a Race at Work Taskforce
  • commissioned an external report on bullying and harassment in response to staff survey feedback and appointed a champion to lead our response
  • implemented new IT systems including, a new e-procurement system,  new unified communication systems (including telephone, upgraded video conferencing, instant messaging and a new planning performance system)
  • renovated our working environment to support our new flexible ways of working
  • set up a Quality Assurance initiative to help us continuously improve our processes

Performance measures

Measure Performance
Learn practical lessons from current home and remote working practices and design future accommodation accordingly Ongoing1  
Deliver our Ways of Working project to deliver digitally enabled business change to reflect the expectations on a modern employer and ensure the core ICT offering can support those changes. Completed
Stakeholder and staff satisfaction with IT tools Ongoing2
Work with the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd to implement our new accountability arrangements, including a new funding formula and business plans for Scotland and Wales Completed
Implement our new People Strategy Ongoing 
Maintain high staff engagement scores in the annual staff survey and ensure indicators such as staff turnover are at appropriate levels Staff engagement score: 72%
(Civil Service average: 62%)
Staff turnover: 9.23%
Identify options, costs and benefits of e-procurement and implement a new system accordingly Completed
Monitor significant variances on all budgets and, where appropriate, reduce these variances over the five years of our Corporate Plan Completed
Deliver a project to examine how well we manage customer enquiries across the whole range of the Commission's work Ongoing

Supporting the organisation

In common with all organisations, the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way we work and presented major challenges, including almost total home-working through the reporting year. Our aim throughout has been to support staff wellbeing while remaining focused on our important role to deliver for voters and to support our electoral  stakeholders. We carried out an internal review of our initial response over the summer, followed by an internal audit at the end of the year. Both found that we had handled the situation well and had learnt lessons, in particular about formalising our structures for decision making in a crisis.

We have invested significant effort in supporting and developing our people. Our People Strategy includes actions to facilitate a culture where employees are able to perform their roles more effectively. We started this work by reviewing our performance management and development processes. 

We invested more in learning and development and ensured staff were aware of the range of options for development that are possible. We also continue with the roll out of our leadership and management development programme for all managers. 

We continued supporting staff groups that we set up to address particular areas, such as the staff engagement group, to ensure our employees have input into corporate policies and programmes. 
We also have groups dedicated to supporting staff with bullying and harassment, to supporting those with mental health issues and to promoting dignity and respect at work. We maintain strong links with our trade union, the Public and Commercial Services Union.

We have made significant progress on equality, diversity and inclusion. We have set up a Race at Work Taskforce to ensure that the voices of our black, Asian and minority ethnic staff are heard and provide a force for change. We have prepared and will be consulting on a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. We are reviewing and enhancing our Equality Impact Assessment process. 

We have continued to transform the way we work through significant investments in our digital infrastructure, to improve its resilience and support flexible working practices. The roll-out of new laptops to all staff will enable more efficient working practices and is nearly complete. We have also introduced a new unified communications system.

This year has seen significant investment in our offices to ensure that we are ready for new and more flexible working practices post-pandemic. This has been completed on schedule despite the constraints of the pandemic.

We have also made significant improvements to our business delivery systems. We have implemented a new project management framework and set up a Quality Assurance initiative to help us ensure continuous improvement. We have also set up a new performance management and tracking system to enhance our reporting mechanisms.

We have also continued working with the National Cyber Security Centre to improve how we monitor our networks and platforms. 
We report to the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd for our policy work on devolved issues, from 1 April 2021 we will be formally accountable to them in the same way as we are to the UK Parliament and have agreed a Statement of Funding Principles. In addition to revised accountabilities, this will change the way funding is received £17.2m of budget will be from Consolidated Fund Administered by HM Treasury, £2.6m from Scottish Parliament Corporate Body and £1.8m from Welsh Consolidated Fund for 2021/22

Impact of Covid-19

The postponement of the elections saw our activity adapted on how it operated, this created opportunities to review working practices. 

We carried out a review of our response to the pandemic. This found that we had balanced the needs of supporting staff with continuing to deliver the organisation’s priorities, and that the Commission had acted swiftly and effectively. 

A further audit was carried out by our internal auditors in early 2021 which confirmed these findings. We have made a number of changes to enhance further our response, notably in setting up a formal Gold/Silver command structure to support decision-making.
The additional costs to the Commission to support staff whilst working at home totalled £85k. This could be broken down in to three areas: 

  • home working allowance to all staff members (£67k)
  • courier services (£8k) – enable essential equipment from the offices to home addresses
  • the purchase of additional equipment to enable people to work at home successfully (£10k).

The additional costs have been absorbed due to underspends caused by the pandemic within the event budget across the Commission.

Impact of EU exit

There are no further European Parliamentary Elections due to be held in the UK, with the related elections legislation repealed.

As a result of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, changes were introduced to the rules for parties, candidates, non-party campaigners and regulated donees accepting donations and loans, and to the registration of non-party campaigners. These changes came into force on 31 December and required the guidance team to update all of its guidance and resources in GB and NI. This amounted to approximately 70 guidance resources. 

There were no additional financial costs to complete this work.