£35.5 million - that's how much our councils spend

A SURVEY has revealed the five councils covering Comet country spent over £35.5m between them on temporary and agency staff during the last financial year. The survey was conducted by Britain s general union the GMB. Hertfordshire County Council was th

A SURVEY has revealed the five councils covering Comet country spent over £35.5m between them on temporary and agency staff during the last financial year.

The survey was conducted by Britain's' general union the GMB.

Hertfordshire County Council was the biggest spender paying out over £19m, of which almost £3m was spent on staff from agencies.

The other big spender was Bedfordshire County Council, which spent over £14m on its non-permanent workforce.


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Of the three second tier councils, Stevenage Borough Council spent £1.2m, North Hertfordshire District Council spent £285,000 on agency staff only and Mid Bedfordshire District Council spent £144,137 on agency staff and contractors.

The GMB study was conducted under the Freedom of Information Act in which it asked 434 UK councils for the information.

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Brian Strutton, the GMB national secretary for public services, said spending on temporary and agency staff generally represented "very bad value for money for the public".

He added: "In most cases the only winners are the employment agencies who take a considerable slice of money for administration and profits.

"Temporary staff, meanwhile, get paid less than the permanent staff whilst the councils pay more to the agency than it would cost to employ the workers direct."

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said the spending was necessary, adding: "The money covers vacancies across the board, from social workers to library assistants.

"However, more than 60 per cent of that goes on care temps as we have to provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week cover for the care of vulnerable children and adults."

Speaking about the figures for Bedfordshire County Council, Cllr John Street, the cabinet member for customer services, said much of the spending was due to the reorganisation of the council.

Cllr Street said: "Much of the funding for this came from the Government, to help the council increase its capacity to deliver good quality services.

"Work to reduce our agency costs is continuing, and we are working with departments to help them restructure or reallocate roles and recruit permanent staff.

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