Council pays temporary staff �798-a-day while planning to slash �60 million

Agency staff paid huge amounts for working in Hackney Council.

COUNCIL chiefs splashed out �38 million on agency staff last year, including paying �798 a day for a person to teach them about securing “value for money”.

As Hackney Council plans to slash �60 million from its budget for next year alone, the Gazette can reveal it paid Ranstad employment agency �38,211,225 for 1,736 workers in 2009/10 – 21 per cent of all staff.

Ranstad gets agency workers for the council from a range of specialist subsidiary agencies and secondary suppliers for the council. Ranstad received �6.484 million – with the rest going to subsidiary agencies and workers.

The �38 million total included �798.91 a day on an “assistant director of regeneration”, �798.91 on a “procurement trainer” and �580.75 a day on a “debt management consultant”.

The assistant director of regeneration was employed for 187 days at a total cost of �149,396.17. The debt management consultant worked for 212 days at a cost of �123,119. The procurement trainer, who taught the council “value for money” was employed for one day.

In total, the council handed over between �500 and �749 a day for 16 positions, 20 including Hackney Homes, and between �750 and �999 for two positions. The rest cost below �499 a day.

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The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request put into the council by the Gazette.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly and former Hackney councillor, said: “These staggering figures exposed by the Gazette show Hackney Council for what it really is, a council of chaos and waste. High agency costs indicate an inability to retain good staff and a shambolic management style. Agencies realise that Hackney is a soft touch.

“They must have been laughing all the way to the bank when they persuaded Hackney to employ one of their debt management consultants for �106,000.”

Fiona McEvoy, Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This money represents a tremendous drain on council finances, and must be addressed in light of recent cuts. Agency staff aren’t cheap, but it beggars belief that quite so many are on such inflated rates of pay.

“It’s just nonsensical to pay someone as much as �750 a day to advise on value for money when there are so many well-paid officer working at the council who should know where savings could be made.

“If the authority is to get its head above water it needs to ask whether this is the most efficient use of public cash”.

The council said consultants and temporary staff had been reduced by a third in the last year and six out of the 16 positions are no longer filled by agency workers.

A council spokesman said: “As part of the chief executive’s staff restructure, we have already identified a number of senior management posts that are currently filled by temporary staff and will not form part of the new structure. Following the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement, it has become very clear that the number of staff employed by the council will ultimately need to reduce. This means we will have to lower the number of temporary workers.

“Although we will have to reduce the number of staff, there will always be the need for a mixed workforce of permanent and temporary workers.

“We rely on temporary workers to provide expertise and experience in specialist areas, such as home care for our most vulnerable residents. At the same time, we will always need the provision of temporary staff to cover maternity leave, sickness and staff turnover.”