A LEADING Labour councillor has described county council chiefs’ decision to spend almost £7million on agency staff as an ‘insult’ to taxpayers.
Coun Peter McDonald slammed Worcestershire County Council’s spending following a meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee at County Hall last Thursday (June 28).
In a report presented to members, it revealed the council currently forks out £6.9million-a-year on agency staff and admitted recent job losses had led to an increased use of them.
Speaking after the meeting, Labour leader Coun McDonald told The Observer this was the ‘economics of a madhouse’ as he believed they should not have made the cuts in the first place.
“Why did they get rid of their own employees if there was not a shortage of work and pay out millions of pounds in redundancy?”, he said.
“Nobody does that in the real world. You don’t sack people when there is work to be done by and then go and pay millions of pounds on consultants to do the work that your normal employees would have done successfully.
“They are acting in a cavalier fashion with the public purse. It is an insult.”
A total of 73 per cent of the council’s expenditure on agency staff is spent on social workers across Children’s Services and Adult Services and Health.
A spokeswoman from Worcestershire County Council said it had been a ‘challenge’ both locally and nationally to find qualified, skilled people who could do the job.
She added: “The use of agency staff gives the council flexibility to cover situations, for example where we are still recruiting, to cover short term peaks in demand for services and provide sickness cover.
“The council is currently going through a period of change and the use of agency staff enables us to carry on delivering services to residents while shaping the organisation to become fit for the future.”