Council’s £30m bill for overtime and agency staff

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taxpayers are forking out an annual bill of £30m for agency staff and overtime payments at Leeds Council, while it is still shedding staff as part of public spending cuts.

Figures show that during 2011-12 the council, which has an annual staffing budget of just over £400m, spent £20m on agency staff and £10.5m on overtime.

Now efforts are being made to try to reduce the amounts spent and the council’s internal audit unit is planning to undertake a value for money review of agency workers. Over the past two years, the council has reduced its permanent staff by about 1,500 to just over 12,500.

According to a council report, agency staff are mostly used to cover for sickness and vacancies and among the jobs covered are refuse collection, social care, social workers, catering, driving, general industrial, security and administration.

Over the past 12 months the highest spenders on agency staff were children’s services at £7m, adult social care at nearly £4m and environment and neighbourhoods at nearly £2m.

Among the biggest spenders on overtime payments during 2011-12 were environment and neighbourhoods at £2.9m, adult social care £2.1m and resources at £2m. About 1,600 staff received some overtime payment last month.

The report to the council’s resources scrutiny board says that rates paid to agency workers are normally below those received by council staff.