Croydon Council spends £9m on extending agency worker contracts

Bernard Weatherhill Council House in Croydon. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Bernard Weatherhill Council House in Croydon. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Croydon Council has approved extensions on agency worker contracts worth £9million, it has been revealed.

The payments come six months after voluntary redundancy packages were offered to the council workforce in a bid to cut costs. But only 76 staff workers out of the 10,000-plus workforce accepted the offer.

Comensura, the company responsible for providing agency staff to the council, will be receiving the five-month extension, the second time the contract has been extended since initial approval in July 2012.

The extension of the contracts will give the council “time to scope its agency staffing requirements and make an informed decision on the best procurement route to take” according to a report made to the cabinet member for Finance and Treasury, Simon Hall.

Greta Farian, regional organiser for the public services union Unison in Croydon said: “It makes little sense to pay inflated costs for agency workers to cover gaps in staffing made by a redundancy programme introduced six months ago.

“Staff who were made redundant suffered the hardship of losing their jobs and income, and it is wrong to use agency workers to substitute for permanent council jobs.”

Temporary workers are being used for a variety of purposes, including cover for unfilled vacancies and other absences pending restructure of the council.

The council’s current annual spending on agency workers is around £20million, of which more than half is spent on children’s social care and adult care.

Jason Perry, shadow cabinet member for Economic Development, Planning and Regeneration said: “I would have expected to see the expenditure on agency staff being reduced especially as we have a higher cost for agency staff than permanent staff.

“I would have thought we would have fewer agency staff given we are in a position where we are having to make people redundant.”

The council said a number of measures to save money are being explored which include shared service options, in house services and third party options.

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