Temp bill faces £100m axe

2 November 2006
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02 November 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor

Local authorities are to receive help in cutting their £2.2 billion annual spend on temporary staff.

The national guidance aims to overhaul the way local authorities procure temporary and agency employees and slash £100 million a year from their bill.

The plans, Transforming the Procurement of Temporary, Agency and Interim Staff, were drawn up by the London Borough of Havering with funding from the London Centre of Excellence.

It sets out approaches to recruiting and engaging temporary workers and offers legal and HR advice, as well good practice case studies.

The Office of Government Commerce and Value Wales Procurement have adopted the guidance and are promoting it in England and Wales respectively.

A survey of 100 buyers from the public and private sector, conducted by SM, found this spend area is not just a problem for local authorities. The majority (56 per cent) said they had no handle on it.

One buyer complained that HR and accounts have always driven the control of spend on temporary, interim and agency staff. Another said her firm spent a huge amount on agency fees and it was an area procurement could address, given the chance.

A third said: "We have no control over this spending. It is something we would like to change, but at the moment we're kept out of the picture."

Others are in the process of confronting the issue and have already made savings.

"It was one of the first areas I tackled when starting at Ealing Council two years ago," said Roger Jones, head of procurement.

"We had almost 200 different suppliers and a wide range of margin rates and other mark-ups for similar roles."

After a spend analysis the council set up a managed service between itself and agencies.

"This has enabled good control of spend with high quality management information. It has also generated annual cash savings of around £1 million."

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