The Committee received details of a report which outlined the Council’s use of temporary/agency workers and included information raised by Members at the July 2021 meeting. The Employee Relations and HR Policy Manager stated that agency workers were required to fill specialist roles or posts that were difficult to recruit to.
It was noted that there had been a £3.4m spend on temporary workers during Quarter 3 (July to September 2021) and although work continued to reduce agency fees and generate savings; it was recognised there would always be a requirement for agency workers due to a skills shortage or specialist projects. Whilst the Council would always aim to recruit permanently, this wasn’t always possible due to a national shortage in specific areas such as qualified planners or social workers. Progress was being made in the reduction of use of temporary staff with 21% temporary workers as a percentage of the whole workforce in July 2021 to 16% in September 2021.
A summary of performance against KPIs was highlighted, and all were achieved with the exception of placements for Early Years which at 65%. It was explained that this was due to self-withdrawal of a supplier and that measures had been put in place to source and procure an alternative supplier(s) via Matrix.
An update on the Matrix efficiency saving project was given, with work continuing within each directorate to encourage agency workers to move into permanent vacant positions where posts have received approval to be recruited to. In addition, workers were encouraged to move Client Direct Limited’s (CDL) to reduce agency fees and to date, 37 workers had transferred to CDL in the last quarter; which was an increase of 22 from the previous quarter.
A Member sought clarification regarding the £112k agency savings that had been generated and was informed that savings had been achieved through a combination of factors including reductions in agency fees, related admin fees 5% including National Insurance (which ranges between 0% to 5.83% depending on the pay rate and role procured).
Responding to whether the Council could afford the associated staff costs in the finance directorate within the context of the current financial situation; the Director of Finance explained that the Council had initially agreed to allocate a sum of £700k. Furthermore, the Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton, had made a statutory recommendation that additional resources be taken on by the finance team and that these costs would be factored in the Capitalisation Direction.
The Chair noted that although there had been a reduction in the number of agency staff from July to September, the total agency spend remained consistent with that for the previous two quarters. It was explained that figures were subject to change due to reconciliation of timesheets, which often came in late and costs were also dependent on the area of work within which staff were required.
a) That details of the report and the progress to manage the use and cost of temporary / agency workers be noted.
b) That the actions from the last meeting be noted in section 9 of the report.