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Agenda item

Use of Agency staff/Interims/Consultants

Minutes:

David Hodgkinson, Corporate Director of Resources was present for discussion of this item, and outlined the report.

 

During discussion the following main points were made –

 

·         The Chief Executive stated that whilst there were a range of reasons for  spend on agency/interims/consultants, there is a clear intention to reduce agency spend and HR are looking at specific measures to reduce this. However there will always be a need for recruitment of these staff in certain circumstances

·         A Member stated that the report did not contain the information in the form previously requested by the Committee, and there is a need to reduce agency spend. He added that the data presented needed to be in a clearer format. In addition, the target of 10% set for agency staff is one the Committee had made clear needed to be reduced to as low a figure as possible, and there was still significant spend in Environment

·         The Director of Corporate Resources stated the aim was to provide information, as transparently and clearly to Members, and that future reports could be structured to provide as much clarity to Members as possible. He added that whilst it was felt the target figure could be reduced, there did need to be flexibility to achieve value for money

·         A Member concurred that the report did not contain the information required for the Committee to effectively manage spend. He stated that he would wish to see, in future reports, each Directorate listing individual agency/interim/consultants employed, the timeframe for these posts, any overruns and the actions taken to reduce spend. This should be presented to Committee on a quarterly basis, especially in relation to the higher spending Directorates, Housing and Environment and the Chief Executive and Leader should keep an overview of this spend

·         The Chief Executive responded that the intention is to provide as much information as the Committee requires, and that there had been significant improvements in some areas such as Housing, where restructures and sickness reductions has seen agency spend reduce

·         A Member referred to two main issues, the lower paid agency staff, which were necessary for services to be maintained and delivered and that of higher paid consultants and interims, who were using umbrella companies/public service companies. The Chief Executive stated that information had been provided to the Committee prior to the meeting but she would recirculate this to Members

·         The Director of Corporate Resources stated that measures were being taken to convert temporary staff into permanent staff, however sometimes specialist staff are needed in certain circumstances

·         Members were informed that whilst there was a overspend of £3.3 million in Environment Directorate. However, a significant proportion of this had actually been offset by developer contributions, and restructuring of the Parking Directorate was now coming to a finish, and would reduce agency costs. Sickness levels had also been reduced from 26 days per FTE to 14 days, with the intention to reduce to 10 days

·         Members were informed however, that if there is a second wave of COVID 19 this may increase agency spend in Environment

·         A Member referred to the fact that whilst recognising there may be seasonal impacts on agency staff, it may be worth considering ‘ringfencing’ a pre-approved budget that will limit spend

 

·         The view was also expressed that the next report to the Committee, to be considered in December, should contain details of spend at present compared to the December figure. In addition, information should be provided if this is available on the number of BAME staff appointed as interims

·         The Chair thanked the Chief Executive for the information provided prior to the meeting in respect of additional questions in relation to the report

 

RESOLVED:

(a)  That the next report to the Committee should be structured in a format that is more easily understandable to Members

(b)  That future reports contain information relating to each Directorate and the reasons for employment of agency staff/interims/consultants the timeframes for employment etc. as referred to above

(c)   That details of current spend, as compared to December spend by Directorate, be submitted to the Committee in the December report

(d)   That details of the numbers of BAME staff employed as interims be provided to Members of the Committee

(e)   That consideration be given to a ‘ringfenced’ budget for agency/interims/consultants so that Members can effectively monitor such spend

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