UK – Ministers accused of ‘wasting money’ as government spent more than £3bn on temporary agency staff to carry out civil service work (The Independent)
October 10, 2022
The UK government has been accused of wasting ‘astronomical’ amounts of money after discovering it had spent more than £3billion on interim staff to fill civil service jobs, reports The Independent. Staff unions and opposition MPs said ministers were “casualizing” the civil service by cutting wages and conditions for temporary workers while paying inflated prices to middlemen. Figures collected from a series of parliamentary questions show that some departments are consistently spending hundreds of millions of pounds a year on agency staff.
The government says using agency staff gives it more flexibility and has suggested the high levels are linked to the pandemic. But the figures, which were obtained from ministers by Labor MP Jon Trickett and cover the last three financial years, show some departments are spending an increasing amount after lockdown, or high levels before lockdown. A government spokesman said: “Any decision to use temporary staff goes through spending checks to ensure they provide the best value for taxpayers’ money. The use of temporary staff, which has increased during the pandemic, is declining.
Agency staff generally have lower salaries and conditions than full civil servants, and the agencies that employ them must also be paid to make a profit, which increases costs. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, which represents rank-and-file civil servants, said: ‘This mind-boggling waste of money would have been better spent on employing more full-time staff with better salaries.’