WILTSHIRE Council has spent almost £9million on temporary staff over the past two years, new figures reveal.

A Freedom of Information request to the council shows that in 2020-21, the council spent £5,055,739 on temporary staff from recruitment agencies.

In 2021-2022, this figure dropped to £3,776,447 - making a total of £8,832,186.

The request - seen on whatdotheyknow.com - was made by David Bosch.

Mr Bosch also sent this Freedom of Information request to several other councils across the country - revealing some eye-watering figures. 

Westminster City Council's spending in this area is much higher than that of Wiltshire, with £23,695,233.20 spent in 2020-21. That figure dropped to  £16,142,089.95.  West Berkshire Council, spent £9.3million in 2020-21 and £6.2million in 2021-22, and in Walsall it was £11.6m in 20/21 and £12.2m in 21/22. 

The figures were also much higher in Warwickshire, with the county council there spending £10,295,038.25 in 20/21 and £8,943,199.09 in 21/22. 

Finally, a request to Wandsworth Borough Council revealed it spent the most out of all of the councils to which a request was made: £25.4m in 20/21, and £22m the following year. 

Councillor Ashley O’Neill, Cabinet Member for Staffing said: “Wiltshire Council is committed to delivering value for money and we have worked hard over recent years to reduce our use of agency staff. We continuously monitor and review our agency spend and the cost has been decreasing since 2018. Currently, one per cent of our active workforce is filled by agency workers.

“We use agency staff as a last resort when we are unable to recruit to critical, urgent and hard to fill specialist roles within the council and all other means of recruiting have been exhausted."

Cllr O'Neill added that agency staff are also sometimes used to cover permanent staff that are off sick, on maternity leave, for bespoke pieces of work and short term projects or pending a service review.

He said: “Due to a national staff shortage, the majority of our agency spend each year is to cover vacant positions such as social worker and occupational therapists within Children’s and Adults Social Care.  

"We are taking steps to find solutions to this by where reasonably possible filling vacancies with newly qualified staff.”