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Unison warns Ipswich Borough Council over agency spend amid high staff turnover at management level

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 January 2018

An HR panel has been launched to investigate how to better recruit and retain staff at ipswich Borough Council. Picture: ARCHANT

An HR panel has been launched to investigate how to better recruit and retain staff at ipswich Borough Council. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Ipswich Borough Council has formed a human resources panel to investigate how it can better retain and recruit management-level staff after Unison warned that consultant and agency spend was too high.

Councillor Martin Cook, Ipswich Borough's resources portfolio-holder, said the council was facing Councillor Martin Cook, Ipswich Borough's resources portfolio-holder, said the council was facing "increasing challenges" over staff recruitment and retention

A report prepared for Ipswich Borough Council’s Wednesday meeting revealed that the council has faced problems recruiting and retaining staff at its grade 11 band – positions at management and senior officer level.

The report said that a 1% public sector pay cap and pay freezes meant wages had fallen behind earnings in the public sector, and that pay at neighbouring authorities for similar positions is more competitive.

The Unison branch executive wrote to the council on January 9 highlighting concerns over agency costs for these roles, as a result of pay being too low.

It said: “The executive believes that the amount the council are spending on consultants and agency staff is not good value for money and too high.

“The executive believes that one of the causes for the amount spent is that the council are unable to fill vacancies due to the pay line being too low and therefore are having to recruit consultants and agency staff.

“The executive therefore calls on the council to enter into negotiations in relation to the pay line with a view to addressing the squeeze at the lower grades due to the living wage increasing at a faster rate than pay awards and making salaries more competitive across all grades to ensure the bill for consultants and agency staff is reduced and staff retention improved.”

The current level of agency and consultant spend on this level of staff has not been disclosed.

At Wednesday’s full council meeting, it was resolved that a cross-party HR panel be formed which will investigate what measures can be taken to improve recruitment and retention.

Martin Cook, resources portfolio-holder, said: “We propose setting up a cross-party HR Panel to look at the issue of pay at the Council. We are keeping pace with Living Wage Foundation rates and nationally agreed pay rises but we are facing increasing challenges over recruitment and retention of staff at the senior level, particularly since neighbouring council staff have moved into Ipswich. This has led to us spending more on recruitment and on agency staff to cover vacant posts.”


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