Monday, February 06, 2006
Temporary Amnesia...Or Total Breakdown?
The employment of expensive agency temps has long been a source of huge waste in the public sector. It is a reflection of poor planning, poor management, and the need to operate within arbitrary staff budgeting rules. The inevitable result is high staff turnover, with temps hired to fill the gaps.
A stunning measure of how bad things are is that whereas government employs around 20% of Britain's workforce, according to the Office for Government Commerce, it accounts for 50% of the temporary labour market. The Gershon Review put the overall cost at £12bn pa, and promised to do something about it.
One of the worst offenders was the DTI, the £5bn pa department that has the temerity to lecture British business on how it should make itself more efficient. In April 2004 the then Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt told us:
"On average we have approximately 450 temporary staff per annum, which represents 9 per cent. of our current workforce. The cost of employing these agency staff over the last three financial years was 2001–02 £4,865K, 2002–03 £6,654K and 2003–04 £5,223K."
Clearly far too high, and scheduled for Gershon cuts. So what's happened? The Sunday Telegraph has an update:
"The DTI last year (2004-05) tripled its spending on office temps to £24.1 million" (or £24,100K in DTI/Hewittspeak).
How can that be? Could they have somehow forgotten? Or maybe they've just axed too many permanent staff chasing after their Gershon target. Er...no. Of their targeted 1,280 Gershon cut, they've managed just 33.
The only plausible explanation is that onerous DTI publishing schedule: 10,000 new publications since 1997.
Ars longa, vita brevis, as someone once rather nicely put it.
Posted by Mike D at 6:28 pm