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Managing our overspend: Reducing our use of agency workers

Savings delivered as agency workers move to permanent contracts

Posted by: Communications team on 18 September 2023 09:00
Market Street office

West Berkshire Council has delivered a 15% reduction in the use of agency workers as part of continuing efforts to address a forecast £6m overspend this year. 

A reduction of agency workers - which come with a higher cost than employees - is one of the pro-active measures put in place to address the challenging financial position and deliver a balanced budget. The use of agency workers is kept to a minimum but can be necessary due to challenges in the recruitment market for specialist roles - something which affects many local authorities.  

The Council reported back in July that it was forecasting an overspend of up to £8.7m by the end of the 23/24 financial year. Since then, the Council has introduced a Financial Review Panel where senior councillors and staff review spending and staffing requests in order to reduce the forecast overspend, which was £6.3m at the end of Quarter 1.  

One key area driving the forecast revenue budget overspend is agency costs. Since the inception of the panel, there has been a 15% drop in the number of agency workers at the Council. The Council's Human Resources team have also been working to move existing agency staff onto permanent contracts which will make savings on agency fees and other related costs. Since June, 15 such staff have become permanent employees, with a further 11 due to sign contracts in September. 

In addition to this, the Council is now working with services to ensure all agency workers are sourced through its official service provider - which provides better value for money, greater oversight of the use of agency workers and advantages with regards to agency workers moving into permanent roles. This will see around a third of all agency workers moving across to the new provider and further help to reduce spend where the use of agency workers is unavoidable. 

Leader of West Berkshire Council, Councillor Lee Dillon, commented:  

"In common with many other local authorities, we are facing a difficult financial position which must be addressed quickly. We have taken immediate, decisive action to tackle our overspend and I am pleased to see this early work starting to pay off by reducing our agency expenditure.  

"Ensuring that we have a positive approach to recruitment and that there is a strong employer value proposition is a key part of reducing our spend on temporary staff. This area will be one of our main areas of focus as part of our upcoming Transformation programme to reduce costs and improve customer service". 

West Berkshire Council currently has vacancies available including social workers, Principal Ecologist, Dementia/Care Practitioners and Apprentice Democratic Services Officer.  

Employees receive The Benefits including a generous leave entitlement, flexible and mobile working, family-friendly policies and Local Government Pension Scheme. To find out more about working for us and current vacancies visit: Working and Living In West Berkshire

Last modified: 15 September 2023 13:44

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