Revealed: Havering Council’s million-pound struggle to recruit staff

Last week's planning meeting at Havering Town Hall saw decision on Greenock Way deferred

Last week's planning meeting at Havering Town Hall saw decision on Greenock Way deferred - Credit: Archant

Havering Council is spending millions of pounds as it struggles to recruit staff, new figures have shown.

The council paid more than £30million for agency staff in the last two financial years, with a further £128,000 going on advertising in magazines and newspapers and £70,000 on recruitment consultants. The figures came to light during last Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Despite the high fees charged by recruitment firms for temp staff, the Recorder can reveal that 369 temps at the council have been in post for more than six months - 266 of them for longer than a year.

But the council said it was “working hard” to reduce reliance on agency workers.

“We need to ensure we aren’t just employing agency staff because it’s easy,” said leader of the opposition Cllr Clarence Barrett (Residents’ Association, Cranham).

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“We need to employ permanent staff to attract loyalty and continuity.”

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “At a time when local authorities have to do all they can to find savings it’s simply not sustainable to have this many temps on the books.

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“Of course there will be times when local authorities may need to hire some temps, but relying on them to this extent is poor value for taxpayers’ money. The local authority needs to re-evaluate its staffing plans to reduce their reliance on temporary staff.”

The council paid out about £15million in each of the years 2010/11 and 2011/12 for temps – more than £8million of it to hire staff in the finance department.

And £45,000 has been spent on recruitment consultants since April 2012 to fill just two senior posts, with the remainder spend the previous year.

The council has also spent £78,000 in excess of its legal requirement to advertise job vacancies in magazines and newspapers.

Cabinet member for value Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “We only spend money on recruitment where necessary and always try to get the best value out of this. Some specialist or senior posts need to be advertised more widely in order to recruit the best people, which results in higher recruitment costs.

“Like all organisations, we sometimes have to recruit temporary staff to cover long-term leave to make sure that residents get a consistent service. However, we are working hard to reduce the use of temporary staff.”

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