Thousands spent on agency staff at council

HORSHAM District Council has spent more than £130,000 on agency staff in three months.

Figures released by the council, complying with the Government’s requirement to make public all transactions of more than £500, show that in December £52,669 was spent on agency staff.

In January the figure was £50,887 and in February it dropped to £30,246.

The data published every month on the district council’s website show transactions of up to £16,000 paid to five different companies, most of which specialise in supplying staff in all positions in the public sector.

For February’s figures, almost two thirds (£19,596 out of £30,246) went towards refuse collections.

A spokesman for the district council said that £5,103 paid for agency staff filling vacant posts in the planning department, £871 went towards ICT (Information Communications Technology) and £1,290 was spent in the council’s property department.

The remaining £3,386 went towards the ICT CenSus Partnership and will be shared between the other CenSus partners, Mid Sussex District Council, Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council.

But February’s figures are around £20,000 less than the previous two months.

Explaining this the council spokesman said: “There are a number of reasons why these costs have reduced, the main one being that agency drivers had been used on the Acorn scheme for some time but many have now taken up permanent positions with the council (as side loader drivers). Consequently, the use of more expensive agency staff has reduced.

“The higher costs shown in December and January relate to when the invoices were paid but that will be some time after the expenditure was incurred.

“There will always be a use for agency staff, for example where the council does not wish to fill positions on a permanent basis, however, the council is determined to keep a firm control on salary costs as part of its financial strategy.”

To read the reaction from the Unions buy a copy of this week’s County Times.

What are your views on the employment of agency staff? Leave your comments below or email anna.coe@sussexnewspapers.co.uk