A Freedom of Information request has revealed that from April 2012 up to the beginning of June 2014 Scottish Borders Council spent £2,352,571.29 on staff recruited from employment agencies.
During that period the council had an open voluntary redundancy/early retirement policy which 75 members of staff took advantage of and whose requests to leave were granted in 2012/13, generating expected annual recurring savings of £1.454 million. Between April 2011 and March 2013, £5.467 million was spent on 213 redundancies.
However, Scottish Government statistics on local government staffing levels in each of the country’s 32 local authorities, show that the headcount at Scottish Borders Council, to the nearest 100, for the first quarter of 2014 was 5,500 - exactly the same as it was in the third quarter of 2012 when posts were being axed under their ‘exit strategy’.
In the last twelve months the headcount has decreased by 1.6%.
The table for full time equivalent posts shows 4,400 in 2012, and 4,400 again in 2014. The change in the number of full time staff in the last twelve months is given as zero although in percentage terms the number has fallen by one per cent (or less than 100).
The largest sums paid out for agency work have been in the chief executive’s department (£800,677) and social work (£845,916). Other services to plug gaps in the workforce by using agency staff included technical services (£192,597) vehicle maintenance (£46,014), SB Contracts for roads contracts delivery (£167,697) and protective services for refuse collection, street cleaning and public toilets maintenance (£251,656).