Doncaster Council department boss on ‘ticking time-bomb’ with staff nearing retirement and those tempted by better pay elsewhere

A senior Doncaster Council boss has said his department has a ‘ticking time-bomb’ with a number of staff heading towards retirement and others enticed by offers of better pay.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:28 pm

Dan Swaine, director of environment and economy at DMBC made the comments at a recent scrutiny meeting where councillors grill heads of department on matters across the council.

He said that an ageing workforce both doing physical work and those with technical skills could be leaving the authority in the near future and that plans were being drawn up to be able to bring in workers to fill the void.

Mr Swaine’s department deals with everything from highways, bridges, fly-tipping, waste and environmental areas such as tree planting, flood defences and gritting operations.

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Doncaster Council's director of economy and environment Dan Swaine.

He also admitted he was constrained in his ability to keep staff if another council offered more money and was constrained by internal pay grades.

The highways and environment boss said pay grading was being looked at in order entice skilled staff to stay on with the authority.

Mr Swaine also said that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the highest amount of staff sick days were attributed to stress, anxiety and depression with muscular and skeletal issues coming close behind.

“We have a ticking time-bomb issue in terms of skills – I’ve got an ageing workforce that does physical work,” he said.

“So we’ve got real challenges internally with those doing physical work and an ageing workforce with people having a technical specialty in areas like highways and environmental health who will go and will go with an awful lot of corporate memory.

“We are starting to think about our future planning around our workforce.

“I have people who can go to other places such as flood engineers and do a similar job but get more money.

“I can’t walk down the corridor and say let’s pay them £3,000 more because I have a structured process to go through for pay and grading.

“I can offer people training, development but the reality is if it’s pay, then that is a struggle for me.

“I have some key players in the environment side who are of a particular age that won’t be with this local authority in two to three years – and that is a bit of a challenge for us.”