Workplace service answers key professional concerns

Chris Sheridan looks back over the year to examine how the institute has supported members' interests.

Last year, Planners in the Workplace (PIWP) responded to members' concerns over public sector pay cuts brought about by single status job evaluation. This year it started supporting members appealing against such pay cuts and developed online guidance to help with the process.

Concerns are also being raised about whether professions in the public sector are under threat. The RTPI in Scotland has supported discussions between professional bodies on this important subject. The proportion of members working in the private sector has increased. But is professionalism threatened by difficulties in retaining and recruiting qualified planning staff?

To support this work we carried out a survey to capture members' views and experiences and provide the RTPI with a better understanding of issues facing them in the public sector. The RTPI is working hard to ensure that the public sector remains an attractive career option, and during the year we raised the issue through letters in the Local Government Chronicle and, more recently, with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives.

PIWP continues to provide valuable guidance to members who run their own practice or are considering setting up their own consultancy. The aim is to reflect the experiences of RTPI members and other professionals in the advice offered and to ensure that it is relevant and practical.

Professional indemnity insurance (PII) is one area that PIWP continues to broaden. During the year we introduced a new insurance broker to the planning consultancy market and I am currently in discussions with others to introduce low-cost PII that offers high levels of cover and combined products, offering PII, public liability, employer liability and home office insurance. Consultants are also supported through the independent consultants network and an online discussion forum.

PIWP is also enabling opportunities for planners to develop the skills they need. We are piloting two collaborative working groups in the West Midlands and the North West. More recently, PIWP contributed to RTPI online guidance for members affected by the economic downturn. PIWP looks set to build on this experience and improve the support available in the year ahead.

- Chris Sheridan is the PIWP manager. For more information, please email piwp@rtpi.org.uk. For more details about the collaborative working groups, please visit www.rtpi.org.uk


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