Almost £43 million spent on agency staff at Sheffield Council

Almost £43 million has been spent on employing agency staff at Sheffield Council.

By Lucy Ashton
Monday, 29 April, 2019, 11:59
Coun Martin Phipps

Over the past five years the council has spent an average of £8 million a year on workers from agencies, but this peaked in 2017/18 when it rose to £10 million.

Labour said “a significant amount” of the spending is due to a shortage of qualified social workers.

But Green councillors, who uncovered the costs, said agency staff could undermine the rights of existing employees.

Green councillor Martin Phipps asked in a written question: “Could figures for expenditure on agency workers for the council please be provided for over the last five financial years? How much was this above the expected amount for the equivalent in-house posts?”

The figures are:

2014/15 £7,307,889

2015/16 £8,315,050

2016/17 £7,771,701

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2017/18 £10,162,958

2018/19 (April 2018 to Feb 2019) £9,199,718

Deputy Council Leader Olivia Blake, in a written reply, said: “A significant amount of this spending is due to a shortage of qualified social workers which is a national issue that has been raised by this authority many times.

“It is not possible to say how much of this was above the expected amount for the equivalent in-house posts.

“The council does not allocate budget to spend specifically on agency workers. While all spend on agency workers is met from individual service budgets, not all of these will have been staffing budgets.”

Green councillor Douglas Johnson criticised the spending. He said: “As the council is cutting staff, it’s increasing the spend on agency workers and some of these people may be the same staff that worked for them under direct employment.

“One of the reasons they like agency staff is they don’t have the responsibility of managing them properly. It’s understandable for short-term staffing gaps but the problem is, in some departments, it becomes the main bulk of staffing. You can use agency staff to undermine the rights of existing workers.”

Labour and Sheffield Council were unavailable for further comment.