A REPORT states Slough Borough Council has spent less money on temporary staff – but still splashed out £15m.

Councillors sitting on the employment and appeals committee are due to hear a report on the council’s spend and usage of agency staff during the 2021/22 municipal year.

Like other local authorities, temporary workers are used to filling posts that the council is struggling to find a permanent person for, however, it has pledged to reduce spending on agency staff and prioritise hiring permanent employees.

Despite this, the paper revealed the council has spent £15m during the 2021/22 municipal year on agency staff from its contractor Matrix SCM.

This has been reduced by £500,000 compared to the previous year and the council said it has plans in place to reduce this spend further.

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Most of the £15m were within the corporate operations and finance team. It was previously reported the council spent £1.9m on temporary finance officers between October and December 2021 to help fix its money troubles.

"The turnover of staff continues to be a cause of concern as this is affecting services with key specialist skills/knowledge requirements," the report states.

Plans to reduce its spending includes restructuring and consulting within the corporate operations, finance, and IT department. Restructures on a departmental level were going to happen anyway as the council needs to become ‘the right size’ in order to save money and adhere to its best value objectives.

Other plans include reviewing agency staff usage by each department and developing a retention strategy to keep permanent employees.

Within the report, it states: “The council continues to offer roles to staff on a permanent basis. Opportunities for vacant roles are advertised internally first, and where there are roles with an associated skills shortage, they are advertised both internally and externally at the same time.

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“Services are also seeking expression of interest in the service of any staff member who wishes to ‘act up’ into a vacancy that occurs as part of the commitment to give development opportunities to staff.”

Elsewhere within the report, the council revealed it saw 313 employees leave the organisation from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, for various reasons.

Staff left as a 'direct consequence' of the council-wide transformation programme and the effectively declaring bankruptcy in July, which caused uncertainty for people's future.

One-hundred and fifty-six people voluntarily resigned whereas 109 workers were made redundant. Over 20 people retired, 16 people left as their contract ended, and eight were dismissed.

An exit interview was conducted and only 16 people responded. While a majority said the council was a ‘good’ environment to work in, ex-employees were split on whether they would recommend the council as an employer to other people.

On the council’s culture, former workers described it as ‘inclusive, welcoming, and diverse.’