A MAJOR cull of agency staff employed by councils is expected to slash costs and save taxpayers millions.
Flintshire County Council chief executive Colin Everett announced yesterday that, together with Wrexham and Denbighshire, the authority had “gone live” with the MASS initiative – Managed Agency Staffing Solution.
They will conduct a comprehensive discovery exercise to establish agency usage and costing using Matrix, a web-based service that enables new agency staff to be requested online.
Time sheets will be authorised online by the responsible manager.
The council then get a single invoice for all agency staff that it pays in the same way that payroll costs are dealt with.
A telephone-based system also operates to recruit agency staff and deal with problems.
The move comes after the Daily Post revealed how Flintshire lavished £13.2m on agency staff in 21 months, while Denbighshire paid out £3.7m on temporary staff in the last year – nearly double the amount it spent in 2003/4 (£1.8m).
That figure is £500,000 more than Conwy used on agency staff in 2007/8, and double the amount spent by Wrexham – which is why Mr Everett believes the scheme is vital.
“Of the three counties Flintshire’s spending is the highest, with the figure for 2007/8 tipping the £6m mark,” he said.
“Our spending has been heavily scrutinised internally and by the media. We have teamed-up with Wrexham and Denbighshire, in partnership with the unions, to address it.
“We don’t want agency staff demonised but we have looked at management of the agency market and are going live as we speak with the MASS project, which will not only help us reduce supply and cost of agency staff but will also have an effect on next year’s budget.”
The initiative will look at how the three councils spend their agency budgets and target areas and departments where they have overspent on non-permanent workers. Mr Everett and his colleagues in Wrexham and Denbighshire will then aim to make savings in these areas.
“We can’t shy away from this, there has not been enough control in Flintshire,” he added.