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Anger over council agency costs
CRITICS have slammed Cheshire East Council for spending £25 million on temporary workers when full-time employees were being made redundant.
Cheshire East Labour Group said the ‘outrageously high figures for agency workers show the council cut too many full-time posts without properly thinking through the implications.’ Labour Group Leader, Clr David Newton, said Conservative cuts to front line services, notably social workers, had been ‘premature and excessive’.
The council has defended the figures – pointing to its reduced year-on-year spend on temporary workers since Cheshire East’s inception in 2009. £9.8 million was spent in 2009/10, £8.4 million in 2010/11 and £6.8 million in 2011/12.
Agency worker spending in the current financial year is £1.2 million, with expected end-of-year costs of £3.7 million.
Between April 1 and July 31 336 agency workers were employed, including 48 qualified social and healthcare workers, 205 manual labourers and 30 admin and clerical staff.
Clr Barry Moran said: “It is good practice for organisations to employ agency workers so they are better able to respond to fluctuations in demand for services along with changes to how they provide services.”
He said it was ‘unfair’ to link the employment of agency workers with the provision of directly-employed posts at the council.
“As part of their safeguarding responsibilities, councils are often required to step in to assist when care providers get into difficulty, and it makes complete sense to call in agency workers for this purpose,” he said.
Clr Laura Jeuda said: “It is disgraceful Cheshire East Council is wasting so much of its social care budget on hiring agency workers.
“What makes it so sickening is the previous year the council was paying large redundancy payments to get rid of its own social workers. Now it is paying high agency rates to get temporary workers to do the work they were doing.”