SPENDING on temporary council staff has dropped by more than a third at Mid Devon District Council as a shift in the employment market sees workers seeking permanent work.

The district council has spent just under half-a-million pounds in the first nine months of this financial year on temporary agency staff, a drop of 37 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Looking ahead, the council said it expects spending on temporary staff for the full financial year to be 30 per cent below the more than £1 million it spent in 2022/23.

The drop would be welcomed after such spending has risen for three consecutive years, jumping by a quarter in the last financial year.

This comes as the council has seen a rise in the number of its permanent staff.

James Hamblin, the council’s HR operations manager, said: “There is a shift in the recruitment market to workers seeking permanent employment compared to recent years where workers have achieved higher rates of pay from employment relationships with less job security, such as agency work.”

Furthermore, staff turnover rates have reduced, and were 12 per cent for the first nine months of the financial year.

This means the council expects turnover to hit about 17 per cent for the full 12-month period, which would be the lowest for five years other than the 14 per cent rate in 2020/21, which may have been artificially low due to the furlough scheme during the pandemic.

Personal or family circumstances are the main reason staff leave, closely followed by retirement, better salary and benefits at their next role, and dissatisfaction with their current role.

Mr Hamblin said the council made efforts to learn from exit interviews. He added that the council continues to keep its benefits offer under review to help encourage further people to stay.

A report for the council said 10 per cent of staff had achieved 25 years’ service, and that they were met and thanked in person by the leadership team.

Bradley Gerrard