The Blind Leading The Bland – Wirral Council FOI Requests.

Lots of interesting FOI requests here.  

Apparently only two Wirral employees have been suspended this year despite all of the bad reports etc.  

The information on previous suspensions fails to disclose when senior officers were suspended.  

They appear to spend a lot on agency social workers too which are expensive after getting rid of 29 exerienced to replace them with Social care burger flippers.

 They are also coy when it comes to revealing who will be looking at their CQC improvements  

And they  refuse to reveal how they are getting on with their milestones

 Here’s another with regard to social work agency costs being much higher than social workers. No wonder they have a huge deficit!  

Wirral and CQC

In 2010 CQC gave a damning appraisal of Wirral Council it stated training, management and knowledge were piss poor and prompted then Council Leader Jeff Green to say  “I am appalled ( he says that a lot)  at the findings of this report and I am deeply disturbed that some of the most vulnerable people in Wirral should find themselves so at risk and exposed.

“Protecting vulnerable people and keeping them safe is one of the most basic functions Wirral residents expect from its Council and whilst this inspection was conducted prior to the current administration being formed and the new Cabinet Member taking up his position; it now falls upon us, as a new administration, to put right what the CQC have exposed as so clearly wrong in the Department of Adult Social Services.

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure the leadership, management and performance of this Department is improved and that a new culture of openness, challenge and tackling of poor performance is put in place. Following very full and frank discussions, I have given the Director of Adult Social Services full Cabinet support, and a timetable, to take whatever action is necessary to turn this unacceptable and woeful performance around.”

So what happened next ……. ?????

Well not much

A former employee tells us all staff were given a Self assessment skills audit . They said “basically it was to say if you felt you had been well trained or not and had skills to do the job, most new staff didn’t  but the self assessment had disciplinary measures built in . Basically if you said you didn’t have the skills they would discuss disciplinary measures and “exit strategy” (euphemism for the sack!) Staff were worried and given this heavy handed approach it would be difficult for many to be honest.  So if you didn’t fill it in you were disciplined if you said the training hadn’t equipped you for the job there was the threat of the sack. But if you are a new member of staff, if you say you ARE adequately trained and able to do the job ( when in reality you weren’t)  and something awful happens to a vulnerable person, you have no defence, because  D.A.S.S. management would say “Not our fault – you signed this to say you could do it, no liability on our part BYE” .  Seemed like you couldn’t win and staff were being threatened for being badly equipped and poorly trained to do a very difficult job”

Wirral Leaks have seen the documents which do indeed have disciplinary measures in built and have a scoring system which in some way appears to replicate the Councils redundancy policy scoring. Highlights include

·         Some staff did not have the required level of knowledge, skills or experience to do their job well.

·         Where capability/performance issues identified agree plan of action, which may include formal capability/disciplinary action.

·         Some staff may wish to discuss with their Manager/Principal Manager and Head of Branch if there is an opportunity to exit the department’s employment in line with council wide agreed procedures

The document has a covering letter From DASS branch manager Rick O’Brein which states

“As you will know following the recent Care Quality Commission Inspection, their report identified a number of issues relating to the workforce with regard to skills and competencies.


The Report went on to say that the work of front line staff and managers in fieldwork services needed to improve in standard and quality, to support people with complex needs.  The department needed to secure the effective deployment of expertise across all its frontline teams to raise the quality of safeguarding work and assessment of mental capacity.


A process has been devised which I believe will allow us to move to a position to support more fully the staff in those front line teams to be capable, skilled and committed to ensure that the areas identified within the report as well as the delivery of outcomes for people who use services, are improved.


This is a three stage process to identify and benchmark where staff currently are, in terms of their capability, knowledge, behaviour and commitment to deliver. The process has three stages.


Stage 1 – Self Assessment (to be completed by all staff)

Stage 2 – Management/Leadership Verification

Stage 3 – Improvement/exit strategy


One of the outcomes of this process is that any identified gaps will be covered by inclusion in an updated Training Plan for 2011/12.



The paperwork and process has been shared with the trade unions and UNISON were able to attend one of the four staff focus groups which have taken place to enable people to consider the process and go through the paperwork in detail. A number of suggestions/ alterations were made, many of which have been incorporated into the papers attached



Have a look for yourself and weep

Staff Self Assesment Skills Audit

Managers Self Assesment Skills Audit

Golden Cone II – Wirral’s Staff Incentive Scheme.

Remember our  jawdropping “Golden Cone” story ? Wirral Borough Council’s positively Gervasian “Staff Incentive Scheme ? “  ( See HERE)  Well it seems to have piqued the interest of somebody on the excellent What Do They Know? Website

Who put in this freedom of Information request


“Dear Wirral Borough Council

Following an employee posting a picture of ‘the Golden Cone’

Could you please disclose for what targets where members of staff
granted ‘The Golden Cone’ and which members of staff were awareded
‘The Golden Cone’ for 2010 and 2011.

Could you also please detail the ceremony of which staff were
awarded ‘The Golden Cone’

Could you please detail any policy that states that such a monthly
award ceremony was a good use of tax payers money.

Yours faithfully,


The reply from Wirral ?

“Staff who were awarded the Golden Cone were presented with the Cone by either the Director (if he was available) or by the Principal Manager – Human Resources at the employees desk. There is no policy. The procedure was started by the previous Director of Adult Social Services and continued until January 2011. No awards have been presented since this date due to changes within the department.

The Golden Cone Award was for staff based at Westminster House. It guaranteed that person a parking space at Westminster House for a month. “

and here are the winners

Not one for “having a nice smile and resembling a nodding dog “  or “never questions bad practice”

We have also been given exclusive seceret footage of the “ceremony” that took place when awarding the not paticulary sought after award HERE