A CASH-STRAPPED local authority is still spending millions of pounds on temporary workers despite promises to cut back, it has been revealed.

Slough Borough Council is forecasting it will spend up to £18m on agency staff between 2022 and 2023, which is about £3m more compared to the previous year.

Between July and September, it spent £4.8m on temporary workers to fill vacant posts and bring specialist advisors primarily in finance, customer services, and IT for a “short period of time”.

A report presented to councillors sitting on the employment and appeals committee states: “The council is committed to reducing the agency spend, by continuing to recruit to the permanent positions in particular finance, IT and reablement services that have recently undergone consultations.

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“We hope to ensure successful recruitment campaigns for the above hard to recruit positions which would assist in reducing the estimated forecast.”

Speaking at the meeting prior to Christmas, Dipak Mistry, employee relations and policy manager, explained: “A lot of the roles where we had high expenditure was that we’ve got some specialist roles. These are skills that Slough Borough Council do not have, and they will come at a premium.

“There are other departments and directorates where they might have gone out once, twice, three times, and some have even gone out six times.

“What that means is that those managers that we work with will have to – because of the competitive market out there nationally – perhaps look at paying a premium or increasing the fee rates than they would normally offer just to get the specialist skills that we want.”

Despite this huge spending, the council has reduced agency assignments by 99 positions between July and September.

This is because of the mass recruitment programme and restructures the local authority is conducting to reduce its dependency on interim employees.

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This confused the chairman of the committee, Cllr Safdar Ali (Lab: Central) as he thought reducing agency staff would lower the council’s £18m spending prediction.

Mr Mistry replied they haven’t reconfigured the data or finances yet until the permanent staff is in post.

At the same time, 62 permanent employees have left the organisation for various reasons, such as dismissal, resignations, or retirement.

Forty people voluntarily resigned and left the council for either reasons around salary, job security, own career progression, the council taking a toll on their physical and/or mental health, or supervision was not as expected.