Bassetlaw Council bosses defend spending £232,000 on hiring temporary agency staff in last financial year

Bassetlaw District Council, Queen's Buildings
Bassetlaw District Council, Queen's Buildings

Bassetlaw District Council bosses have defended spending more than £232,000 on hiring temporary agency staff in the last financial year.

A Freedom of Information request revealed the huge sum, which was spent from April 2014 to March 31 2015.

The total figure, of £232,366.90, means the council spent more than £4,800 a week and £690 a day on hiring short-term employees.

The chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said the figure is a result of ‘poor planning’.

Neil Taylor, chief executive of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “Bassetlaw District Council works extremely hard to ensure that taypayer’s money is spent in the most cost effective way and that its services are delivered to the highest possible standards.

“Like many local authorities across the country, the council is required to employ temporary agency staff to ensure that essential front-line services and those with a high demand are able to continue with minimal disruption when circumstances dictate.

Mr Taylor added: “This can be for reasons such as long-term sickness, when a specialist position becomes difficult to appoint to, when short-term specialist projects are required, or when a particular service area has a high demand placed on its capacity.”

The council’s Development Control department had the highest temporary staffing spend, although that exact sum is not known.

“Bassetlaw’s position correlates with the national picture when it comes to employing temporary agency staff in development control and there has been an increase in the demand for planning officers, managers and technicians due to an increase in the amount of planning applications and pre-applications that councils are receiving,” Mr Taylor told the Guardian this week.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Temporary staff may be needed occasionally to fill in for absences but this is a staggering bill for taxpayers to foot for what smacks of poor planning.”

The main reasons behind hiring temporary staff can include needing extra staff to cover certain projects, sickness, seasonal work and not being able to find a suitable permanent member of staff.

Mr Taylor continued: “The council will continue to monitor the number of agency staff it employs, balanced with the need to provide a high level of service to our residents, businesses and stakeholders.”

Mr Isaby added: “It’s important that local authorities make long-term plans and prioritise essential services, so that they can ensure they have the right number of level of staffing to deliver them.”