Hello PPMA colleagues and friends,

I love this time of year – we’re entering into what we villagers called turning times, heralding a new season. Early morning walks with Ellie and Jenny (my two amazing chocolate Labs) over the last week have had me thinking about a few things. Firstly it’s apparently Labrador fruit foraging (and farting – sigh) time again; secondly, foraging may be the reason why the girls have developed yet another bout of selective deadness and thirdly, how on earth are we hurtling towards the end of yet another year?!

I’m not sure that I have a meaningful answer to any of the those three questions. However, crisp and peaceful early morning walks (well apart from the woofers) have me reflecting on what a year it has been. Policy wise it feels like the national debate about public services funding and the future of health and social care is really coming to a head. We’ve seen a shift in the pay cap which had seemed immovable for such a long time. Whilst that is welcome we still have a way to go in my view – both in terms of delivering fair increases across public sector, but also in thinking about how we can afford higher pay without further cutting into service delivery.

In health and social care, there certainly seems to be a collective strategic understanding and urgency at policy maker level. LG and NHS employer, provider and other organisations have gained traction both in terms of highlighting the urgency, but also making the case for an integrated and inclusive response. We’ve not quite had that level of integrated action and thought reflected in Government’s response. but there’s no question in my mind that the LGA #futureofasc green paper, together with the recognition that a longer term funding plan is critical take us substantial steps forward. There is a substantial way to go, but we at least seem to be heading in the same direction, which is a blessed relief.

We’ve also seen various Government committees publish reports on age discrimination, the ongoing challenges experienced by women in their careers and the status of gig economy workers. It’s clear that workforce related issues are on everyone’s agenda – and arguably that is a very good thing, provided of course well thought through policy and legislation follows. We all have the war stories on IR35 and it’s by no means clear that the legislation will be rolled out across the private sector yet. It will be interesting to see, particularly in advance of Brexit next year, what additional spotlight will be focused on workforce related matters. From a PPMA perspective we are committed to ensuring that we proactively and reactively respond on policy matters as they arise.

As well as taking a national position on policy, we’re also ensuring that we are in a position to influence policy and the development of our HR & OD colleagues over a much longer timeframe.  You’ll be hearing from us very shortly about our preferred proposals for restructuring PPMA. I’m very excited about these and hope that you will take time to consider the efforts that have gone into that work on your behalf.

I always fondly remember the dog days of summer (no pun intended) as the prelude to going back to school/college and university. The rhythm of public services is often the same for some of us – a relatively quiet summer which allows us to draw breath and then the mad hurtle towards the end of the year. This cycle is becoming very familiar to us too – Northern Summit is becoming a real milestone during the year and we’re really looking forward to that.

We’re also looking forward to publishing our new Let’s Talk Themes. I’ve talked about these before – but I’m really delighted to share with you that we’re making great progress. We’re using the work we are doing here to both update our website content – so each of our themes will have a dedicated page – and downloadable descriptions of each themes that you can use to share with colleagues. They are essentially scoping statements that will help us define future thought leadership and content and research topics. You’ll see these soon and you will see in our new structure how we plan to move these forward. You will be a key part of that too – so please look out for them and let us know what you think.

Before we get into that mad end of year rush, I want to thank every single one of you for your ongoing support of PPMA and our broader public service workforce. I’ve said it time and time again before, but the work that all of you do is absolutely fundamental. Your contributions will often be invisible but I have no doubt that without them public services would be in a much more challenging place.

Until next time, keep well.