The Organisational Development / HR Business Partner introduced a report that updated the Committee on the latest position regarding temporary agency staffing at the Council.
The key points noted by the Committee were as follows:
· A performance review meeting had been held with the temporary agency staff provider, Matrix, on 9th December 2020. All of the key performance indicators in the contract were being achieved with the exception of the percentage of appointed workers completing their assignment. This had fallen 2% and was attributed to the Phase 2 staffing restructure consultation which led to some placements coming to an end.
· At its last meeting the Committee had asked for further information on the number of agency workers earning over £75,000. Appendix 3 to the report set out the number of such agency workers and their job titles. There were 31 agency workers earning above this level, usually in hard to recruit posts.
· There had been a 0.8% reduction in agency spend since the previous quarter and one of the key aims of the Our Futures transformation was to further reduce this figure by converting to permanent roles where appropriate or ending current placements.
· A relatively high percentage of workers (47%) had chosen not the state their ethnicity on monitoring forms. This issue had been discussed with Matrix and steps had been put in place to improve diversity data collection and include in future reports to the Committee.
· Appendix 1 showed that total agency spend during the quarter was £3.6m which was a slight increase of £0.17m. Savings had been made in a number of areas but it was noted that there had been an increase in agency spend in other such areas including the Covid-19 response for example on the community testing programme and contact tracing. Internal staff had been temporarily redeployed into a number of roles in the Covid-19 response but as they were increasingly required to return full time to their substantive roles it was sometimes necessary to engage temporary workers.
The Committee asked a number of questions about the report including the work being undertaken to reduce the reliance on agency workers through phase 1 of the Matrix project-efficiency savings work. Members were informed of the benefits of working through Client Direct Services Limited to which 11 staff had recently transferred. It was noted that it resulted in lower agency fees and more control for the Council in managing agency spend for certain roles.
Members highlighted the long standing issues in recruiting permanently to highly skilled jobs such as in social care and planning and asked about the future strategy to address the problem. The Officer explained the work being done, particularly through the transformation programme and there was a discussion about the different issues experienced in various roles across the Council. It was noted for example that for certain positions in the DSO it was more cost effective for the Council to use agency staff, whilst in social work it was often a professional choice to be agency workers which made permanent recruitment by the Council challenging.
A question was asked about the number of agency staff earning over £75,000 that had been in post for more than a year. This information was provided during the meeting by the Executive Director of Corporate Services and the Committee asked that this information be added to future reports.
At the conclusion of the discussion the report was noted.
Resolved – That the report be noted.