Temporary employees are people that employers – such as Folkestone & Hythe District Council – contract to a job for a limited period through a third-party agency that staffs for other companies.
Back in Oct we wrote that the Council’s Temporary Staff Costs would surpass the million pound mark for the third time in five years, under the leadership of the Chief Executive, also known as the Head of Paid Service, Dr Susan Priest. Her role is a statutory necessity, as per s4 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989
For this financial year to date, Temporary Staff Costs stand at £821,650, till 30 Sept 2022. It is more likely than not Temporary Staff costs will break the million pound barrier in 2022/23.
It is the role of the Chief Executive, to ensure that all the authority’s functions are properly co-ordinated as well as organising staff and appointing appropriate management.
To look at temporary staff costs for half a year in isolation, makes little sense. So below is a chart for the last four financial years from April to Sept only. It’s clear that costs for temporary staff costs for 2022/23, are well above any other year by the half way mark.
But again the data tells you only so much. So we’ve broken the data down by supplier.
Below is the data for the companies who provided Temporary Staff to the Council for 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 to Sept only. The top three suppliers to the Council are HR GO (Kent) Ltd – £868,586, Recruitment Solutions (Folkestone) Ltd – £714,665 and Morgan Hunt UK Ltd – £333,415.
Temporary staff are only a stop-gap solution and an expensive one at that, as is evidenced above.
The most common reasons for low retention rates in both temporary and permanent roles is poor working conditions, including long hours, low pay, and poor benefits.
Other reasons can include a lack of job satisfaction or opportunities for advancement. No matter the reason, high turnover rates are costly for the council and are no doubt leading to a decline in morale among remaining employees.
Let’s not forget, temporary staff costs have broken the million pound barrier twice, in the four year and half year tenure Dr Priest has been in charge. We suspect, for this financial year 2022/23, they will break the million pound barrier once again.
Of course, interest rates have risen dramatically since April 2022, but this alone cannot explain the heavy reliance the rise in costs and numbers of temporary staff personnel.
It’s clear temporary staff costs do not achieve best value for the council or the local taxpayer. However, the Council might beg to differ.
Under best value the council must “make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness“, as per Section 3 of the Local Government Act 1999 (as amended by s137 of the Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Act 2007).
As always, we’ll leave you to make your mind up if spending on temporary staff costs; which is set to pass the million pound barrier for 2022/23, delivers best value to our council and the ratepayers of the district.
The Shepway Vox Team
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