Two-way dialogue maintains members' support service

In the past few months Planners in the Workplace has made progress on key issues, reports Chris Sheridan.

Over the past three months, planners from five English local authorities and one Scottish council have contacted Planners in the Workplace (PIWP) to request support and guidance in the preparation of appeals against proposed pay cuts. Guidance has also been published on the institute's website and has attracted more than 2,200 hits.

The recent online survey of the public sector drew an excellent response, with feedback from more than 50 per cent of authorities in England and Wales and 90 per cent coverage in Scotland. Job evaluation featured in the questions and from the responses it is positive to see that pay cuts are not as wide-ranging as first feared, with many professionals receiving an increase. However, this is little consolation to those who have been affected.

The survey's focus on the public sector has attracted criticism from members in the private sector. The RTPI does not favour any sector, but the concern in the public sector about the lack of qualified planners is shared by the private sector because it frustrates its own work. It is in everyone's interest to uncover the factors that make or are perceived to make the public sector less attractive to professionals.

PIWP is helping the RTPI to identify ways to raise the profile of professionalism in the public sector, gain an insight into how to support planners and try to tackle the causes of ongoing dissatisfaction.

The service works on behalf of members in many other areas. For example, it is seven years since the RTPI introduced compulsory professional indemnity insurance (PII) and experience gained in this time has led to concerns that existing insurance products may not accurately reflect consultants' needs.

Discussions are continuing with brokers to encourage the development of insurance products that offer high levels of indemnity or combine PII with public liability insurance, but with a lower-cost premium that reflects the risks to which planners are exposed.

Responding to more recent initiatives, PIWP is also helping to develop information from the effective practice in spatial planning study (EPiSP). We have recently published a skills list as identified in the report with each item supported by links to further information. This will be updated and developed in coming months.

- Chris Sheridan is PIWP manager. He can be contacted on 020 7929 9483 or at For more information on PII or EPiSP, please visit

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