Local government’s attempt to reduce spend on temporary labour is being hit by the Agency Worker Regulations.
Our analysis shows that the use of temporary workers across 79 of our longest-term local authorities and public body customers – which collectively spend over £300 million a year on short-term help – has dropped by 15% over the last year.
The North East saw the biggest drop in temporary recruitment at -127.3%, with the West Midlands following close behind (-115.9%). But London also saw a drop of -25.5% too.
At a time when the government is pushing harder than ever to get public spending back on track, this situation shows that Town Halls have made a real and concerted effort to reduce the amount that they spend on temps.
They have done this by steadily gaining greater control over their budgets by implementing control methods n order to manage their expenditure.
But over the same period, therer was also an increase in pay rates partly as a result of the implementation of the Agency Worker Regulations. Across the board, there was an average 8.9% increase in hourly pay rates. In response, I am convinced that local government needs to plan better for the requirements of the future.
Taking a long-term view
Meanwhile, the numbers of young people joining the workforce should also be a concern for these organisations. Young people suffered the greatest impact because of reduced spending by local authorities.
For instance, in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, the number of 25 to 34 year-olds employed on a temporary basis decreased by a significant -35.4%.
So what do these figures mean for the workforce? For one thing, we are seeing a more commercial approach being adopted by local authorities when it comes to recruitment.
They are taking greater control of spending on temporary labour and we are also seeing good practice in terms of new and innovative methods of finding personnel such as introducing apprenticeship schemes and internal resourcing pools as well as using internal agencies.
However, in tackling the challenges of today, local authorities must not take their eye off the workforce challenges of tomorrow. Attracting young people must be a priority because today’s temporary worker could be tomorrow’s permanent employee.
Creating a sustainable workforce model focussed on succession management is a must for local authorities looking to meet the changing needs of our growing population during the years to come.
Jamie Horton is managing director of recruitment specialists, Comensura.