SLOUGH’S dire financial situation makes the council ‘not attractive’ to work for as over 300 employees leave.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported Slough Borough Council (SBC) spent £15m last year on agency staff to fill vacancies the local authority has historically been struggling to fill.

The report, which was presented to councillors sitting on the employment and appeals committee, outlined 156 out of the 313 employees who left the council voluntarily resigned whereas 109 workers were made redundant.

SBC is hoping to reduce its agency staff spend further as well as retain staff, but officers have warned this could be tricky as the council’s financial crisis makes it ‘not attractive’ for people to apply for roles as restructures and cuts are imminent.

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The local authority is needing to become ‘the right size,’ which requires restructures such as in the finance department, and is needing to make £20m savings a year until 2029 to reduce its gargantuan borrowing debt and blackhole.

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, June 14, Dipak Mistry, employee relations and policy manager, warned councillors a shortage of skilled workers nationally will also affect SBC hiring people in a timely manner.

He explained to councillors that the pandemic has impacted peoples’ career aspects by switching jobs or keen to find roles that are hybrid working.

Mr Mistry said SBC tried recruiting 14 social workers and occupational therapists last month but received no applications.

The council is currently working on a retention strategy, which looks at ways SBC can do to keep permanent employees for as long as possible.

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Cllr Zaffar Ajaib (Lab: Langley St Mary’s), lead member for customer services, procurement, and performance, said last year’s transformation programme – Our Futures – left a “big hole” in the council’s workforce that they now need to fill.

He said: “I think as far as the £15m cost is concerned on temporary staff, I think that will change predominantly once we see the impacts of the finance restructure going through, which will be followed by IT and HR and others.

“I think those are the big areas where if you look at the specialist staff, which are predominantly in finance and IT, once that is addressed, then we will start seeing a big impact on the reduction of agency staff cost and people.

“This journey has started and it’s going to take a good few months to get there.”