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Almost 100 agency staff employed by Wrexham Council despite major redundancy programme

Published date: 17 February 2017 |
Published by: Jonathan Grieve 
Read more articles by Jonathan Grieve  Email reporter


 

Wrexham Council is employing just short of 100 agency workers, despite having made hundreds of staff redundant in the past four years.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by Plaid Cymru also showed the longest of those temporary workers' contracts was three years and 364 days.

The cost of employing staff through agencies in the past financial year alone was £2.2 million – with just 30 per cent going to agencies based in Wrexham.

Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru's Wrexham chairman, said: “Wrexham Council has spent millions on paying redundancy money – £6.7 million in the past four years alone for 700 staff – and then takes on nearly 100 people through agencies.

“There may be a good reason why they should do that in exceptional cases and as a temporary measure but having people on ‘temporary’ contracts for four years is very odd, to say the least. 

“It’s also disappointing to see that, yet again, Wrexham Council wants to spend our public money on agencies based in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds with just one Wrexham-based agency in the top 20.”

He continued: “One agency – Eden Brown Synergy, with branches in London, Manchester and Leeds – picked up £540,000 in total, more than £10,000 a week.

“By contrast, GAP Personnel – the only agency on this list with its HQ based in Wrexham – received just £6,000 of council agency work in the entire year.

“Many of these agencies specialise in social work and social care, yet Wrexham Council closed Nant Silyn care home stating there was no demand. 

“I think people facing more and more council cuts are entitled to ask what we’re getting for our money from these agency workers that we couldn’t get from council employees.

“We’re also entitled to know whether Wrexham Council is looking to expand its use of agency workers and further reduce direct staffing.”

Cllr Bob Dutton, lead member for corporate services and health and safety, said: “The assumption the authority has lost nearly 700 staff to redundancy is incorrect as the figure includes those who have left for any other reasons as well, including promotion, moving elsewhere, etc.

“The amount of redundancies has increased in line with our Reshaping programme, as a result of which the amount paid out to those taking redundancy also increased.

“As for the temporary four year contract cited, a temporary post can be extended – many are subject to grant funding and specific projects, and as such may be extended to a longer duration.

“Regarding our use of organisations based outside of the Wrexham area, while the headquarters of such large, national organisations may be based in other urban centres, the workers registered on their books will live in Wrexham and neighbouring North Wales authorities.

”I would also add that some agencies specialise in finding workers with particular professional skills, and as such it is necessary to make use of them to source workers with particular qualifications or expertise.

“We have guidelines for the use of agency workers, and through procurement a single contract in place to ensure we have agreed rates etc. 

“An agency worker is normally only used to cover short-term ad-hoc cover, pending recruitment, or in cases when we are unable to recruit a specialist skill, it is not a replacement for employing staff to posts in departmental structures.”

  • See full story in the Leader

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