A REFRESHED contract between Slough Borough Council and a temporary staffing agency is due to start this week – as it is revealed more than £1.2 million was spent on interim workers in May alone.

Starting from today (July 6) a new contract between the council and Matrix SCM – which manages and works with recruitment agencies – will be activated to deploy temporary staff to fill roles on an interim basis whilst SBC finds full-time employees in sectors such as waste management, finance and resources, social care services, etc.

This new contract will last for two years – but could be extended for another two – and will based on a ‘hybrid model’ which is a flexible model to cater around SBC’s specific agency needs.

This also involves an on-site contract manager to pro-actively support and challenge hiring managers allocating workers to the council as well as looking at the possibility of converting temporary roles into permanent.

READ MORE: Slough's child fostering service - latest inspection report

At an employment and appeals committee on July 2, councillors were presented a report where it stated that this move will see ‘a reduction in contribution to statutory costs of agency workers’ and a reduction in the council’s contribution to agency fees from 9.2 per cent of pay to nearly eight per cent – resulting of savings around £110,000 a year.

In the report, there was a breakdown of how much SBC paid on temporary staff and the number of hours they clocked in during the last three months.

In May 2020, over £1.2 million was spent for 30,563 hours, £1.01 million for 25,751 hours in April, and 33,278 hours cost the council £1.28 million in March.

Councillor Balvinder S. Bains (Labour: Upton), lead member for inclusive growth and skills, asked why the council has spent so much money on temporary staff where the organisation should be growing their own staff and hiring locals into permanent roles within the council.

READ MORE: St Edward's Royal Free Middle School says goodbye to Mrs Johnson after 23 years

Lola Makinde, operational development practitioner and HR for SBC, responded that going forward, all of SBC’s agency workers contracts will be looked at to map out if this contract should remain active or not or convert this role into permanent.

The chief executive of SBC, Josie Wragg, added that she recognised the amount of money the council spends on temporary staff has been ‘a long niggle’ to councillors – but assured members going forward, the council would minimise the reliance of agencies and get more people into permanent roles within the council.

She said: “When we are transitioning from one phase – the old Slough Borough Council – to the new phase, what we want to do is to ensure we give as much opportunity for our existing staff and fill those new posts as quick as possible.

“So, it might be during that period we’ll see a slight increase in agency staff because we would rather for a short period of time employ an agency staff member in order to protect that post for somebody applying in the new structure.”