Folkestone & Hythe District Council realise their biggest challenge to delivery of Council services is recruiting and retaining key skills in some areas of their work, e.g. planning and property development. They recognise the fierce competition from neighbouring authorities and London. However, the council appear to be having problems retaining staff in their planning department, as the letter below shows.
Earlier this year, Ben Geering former Head of Planning left F&HDC after more than 11 years and went across to the private sector to work for Quinn Estates. His former job was advertised in the middle of Sept and closed on 7th Oct and a replacement is not likely to take up his post until Jan 2019.
The loss of a sizeable number of Planning staff may explain why both the Princes Parade and Otterpool Park outline planning applications have been delayed until early next year.
The Council have not just lost planning officers but housing officers too. They have been advertising for a Senior Housing Accommodation Officer, a Housing Advice and Preventions Officer and a Initial Housing Advice Officer for a minimum of eighty days, without any takers, according to their website.
When staff leave it takes time to replace them, so it is to recruitment agency, our Council have to turn to. Since April of this year the Council have used 12 Recruitment Agencies to recruit permanent and temporary staff. Since April of this year it has cost the Council £494, 204, as the graph below shows.
The amount spent on temporary staff and/or recruitment of permanent staff in the first seven months of 2018/19 is lower than in 2017/18; which was a record year, but approx £60,000 more that 2016/17.
HR Go (Kent) Ltd have received 36.6% of the budget spent on the temporary staff and Recruitment Solutions (Folkestone) Ltd have received 21% of the budget so between them in excess of 50% of Folkestone & Hythe District Council recruitment budget has been taken up by two local recruitment companies.
F&HDC have a legal duty under Section 1 of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to check to ensure how its contracts “might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area”. The Council’s internal Purchasing Guide advises staff that they must take into account this legal requirement when entering into contracts. It is clear that using and recruiting from companies who are local, may improve the local economy and local environment.
F&HDC are in the second “transformation (read downsizing) efficiency program so permanent staff will be leaving either through natural wastage, redundancy or finding secure employment elsewhere. Whether this is the most efficient way of spending the recruitment budget will not become clear until the end of the financial year. And might 18/19 be another record breaking year with regards to temporary staff costs? We’ll have to wait and see.
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime