Council’s £13m for agency staff

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CASH-strapped Doncaster Council spent more than £670,000 on ad-hoc temporary staff over a nine-month period.

This is in addition to the £4.3 million spent between April and December 2011 on agency staff through its approved personnel supplier Comensura and £8.8 million on temporary workers the year before.

The authority has revealed if Comensura can not supply a particular person to meet its needs, managers at the authority can go out and find their own employee, with finance staff often not realising the new appointment until an invoice arrives for their services.

At a meeting of the council’s Employee Relations Committee it was also revealed the £3.2 million spent on “off-contract” positions in 2010 and 2011, could realistically be a lot higher.

The council is having to make hundreds of job losses as part of its bid to claw back a £70 million funding shortfall from central government over the coming years.

Coun Craig Sahman, chairing the meeting, said: “There are jobs at risk at this council and we are paying money to agency workers. It is just unacceptable.

“We have got people on redeployment lists who could easily fill these jobs.”

At the end of January the council had 111 agency staff on its books, including 31 senior social workers in the children and young people’s services, costing up to £70,000 each, 13 administrators and eight library assistants.

The extra social workers were brought in to help following a government review, and cost the council more than £20,000 each than employing a full-time social worker directly.

And this means the department has spent more than £7 million on agency staff since April 2010.

Coun Mark Thompson added: “We just do not have a clue what anybody has spent until the bill comes in. That’s not just pay roll either.”

The council has had a contract with Comensura since 2006, but is now looking at alternatives to try and cut the cost of temps.

Coun David Holland added that temporary employees were always going to be needed in the authority to cover sickness and staff turnover, but more had to be done to ensure they were only employed on short term contracts.

The council’s human resources department has now been asked to put together a temporary staff procedure plan to be brought in September.