At a meeting of the Bradford Council executive, Bradford Conservative Councillors Leader Rebecca Poulsen (Con, Worth Valley) as well as shadow spokesperson for Children and Families Kyle Green (Con, Ilkley) questioned how the council was going to achieve its ambitions in the Council Workforce Development Strategy 2021/2024 and People Strategy paper while it continues to spend huge amounts of hard working taxpayers' money on hiring agency staff.
While both Conservative councillors acknowledge the challenges of hiring experienced social workers and key front line staff and are supportive of efforts to recruit these staff, neither can understand why around 90 support staff working for children's services are agency staff. With agency staff less likely to be invested in the ethos and aims of the council as well as costing the council additional funds to hire, both councillors believe that the council must reduce the huge amount of money being wasted on agency fees.
Speaking about this Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, Leader Bradford Conservative Group stated, "As a council we must ensure we have the skills we need within our own workforce. If we need support staff roles are we looking across the council at the staff we have and the opportunity to learn new skills rather than always spending on expensive agency staff? Under the Workforce Development Strategy I raised the issue of succession planning and making sure we don’t demotivate existing staff by recruiting externally. The Covid19 Pandemic has shown us that staff can relish the chance to work in different roles and learn new skills. We need to embrace this and not waste money on expensive agency staff"
Following on from his questioning on this subject at the executive, Conservative Shadow Children and Families Spokesperson Kyle Green said, "As the council looks to improve its children's services from the 'inadequate' rating that OFSTED gave it in 2018 it is vital that staff are committed to their role and feel valued. By spending £16.2million on agency staff the council are taking money away from the vital improvements that are needed for front line work.
While I acknowledge the challenges involved in hiring experienced social workers, I implore the council to ensure it is hiring its own staff for support roles so that they can make use of apprentices and those who may have a future interest in progressing in these areas, investing money currently spent on agency staff instead on front line services and staff development".