Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!

                                    

Matrix SCM Ltd Wirral Council 20th December 2017 £308534.18
Matrix SCM Ltd Wirral Council 20th December 2017 £308534.18

During the public inspection period I requested copies of a number of invoices from Matrix SCM Ltd to Wirral Council for agency staff. An example of one of those invoices for £308,534.18 (which doesn’t state much detail) is above.

Agency staff are provided by Matrix SCM Ltd to Wirral Council on either an hourly rate or day rate. In addition to this there can also be claims for mileage, parking and tunnel tolls.
Continue reading “Wirral Council paid a day rate of over £700 a day for some agency staff!”

Why did Wirral Council spend £8,497,964.68 on agency staff last year?

Why did Wirral Council spend £8,497,964.68 on agency staff last year?

Why did Wirral Council spend £8,497,964.68 on agency staff last year?

                                                   

Matrix SCM invoice Wirral Council IN15346 £174,926.02
Matrix SCM invoice Wirral Council IN15346 £174,926.02

Above is one of the many weekly invoices Wirral Council received from Matrix SCM Limited for agency staff last year. Wirral Council spent £8,497,964.68 on agency staff with Matrix SCM Ltd last year.

Each invoice has an accompanying spreadsheet that shows how the total amounts on the invoice are calculated. The spreadsheets have a column titled units, which either represent hours or days for agency staff supplied.
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What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?

What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?

What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?

                                                   

Cllr Ann McLachlan Cabinet Member for Transformation and Improvement at a Cabinet meeting on the 7th March 2016
Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Transformation and Improvement) at a Cabinet meeting on the 7th March 2016

To very little fanfare, Wirral Council have published the 12 page peer review conducted by the Local Government Association last year. This was accompanied by a press release which glosses over some of the criticism in the peer review.

Here are some quotes from the peer review (followed by my comments in italics):

Financial Strategies

In past years the council has been overspending in some directorate revenue budgets and using its reserves to balance the revenue budget. This issue was reflected in the previous peer challenge in 2012 and the council needs to develop the 2016/17 budget and not divert from it. It is currently anticipating a £9.2m slippage on this year’s savings target of £38m.

Political leadership

The Leader’s role as Chair of the Merseyside City Region is seen as recognition of the important role that the Wirral is playing in the development of the city region.”

 

Well shortly after this peer review, Cllr Phil Davies resigned as Chair and Mayor Anderson is now Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

“However, the Senior Leadership Team is not currently giving adequate corporate leadership and this needs to be much stronger if the Plan is to be delivered effectively. More connected leadership is needed from the top to the bottom of the organisation. The council must have the senior officer leadership resource to create capacity to deliver change. The peer team also had a concern at the current high use of consultants and interims who are providing temporary specialist support. This is not a concern about consultants/interims per se, but an observation about their number and duration. The council should continue to ‘invest to save’ – efficiently and effectively – using the right external help for specific time-limited purposes, but look to reduce the overall number of longer-term interims in key roles. The council needs to move quickly to a new organisational shape to support the Chief Executive, including providing the right kind of strategic level capacity.”
 

If I hadn’t written Why has Wirral Council spent £6,003,273.07 on temporary staff over the past 10 months? around a year ago, would this have even been mentioned in the peer review?

Relationship with residents

The council and its partner agencies recognise that they want to form a different relationship with residents in the future. There is general recognition that relationships with local communities has been negatively impacted by the past challenges the council has had to deal with. The new relationship will be based on a clearer Wirral narrative, a greater ability to listen to resident’s issues, making better use of the data and intelligence the council gathers across the Wirral and greater use of channels use as digital and social media.”

 

Ahh, listening to residents’ issues such as over 6,000 signing a petition against closure of Girtrell Court but you go ahead and decide to delegate closure to the Cabinet Member anyway? Or is this all part of listening to residents then doing the opposite of what they want?

The Council’s approach to partnership working

There is evidence of community involvement in the council’s budget processes, although more limited evidence that this has influenced decision-making.”

 

So, this seems to imply that when Wirral Council have a budget consultation, the consultation has a limited effect on the decision after the consultation?

“There is also an opportunity for a more coordinated and cost-effective approach to community engagement amongst the Wirral Partnership members. This might extend to a more joined up approach to communications and campaign activities.”
 

Despite reading this a few times, I’m a little unsure what this means? Anyone care to hazard a guess? I thought the constituency committees were supposed to do community engagement?

New Models for Service Delivery

Delivering significant change must take account of some instances of low staff morale generated by the perception of indiscriminate universal cuts in service provision in recent years.”

In other words Labour councillors constantly going on about government cuts nearly every public meeting is damaging staff morale at Wirral Council.

“The move to new ways of working will need to be driven by a much more powerful Senior Leadership Team to collectively own and drive transformation.”
 

In other words, there’s going to be a senior management restructure and some managers are going to be leaving.

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16 Wirral Council invoices for temp senior managers (IT & SEN), other temps and catering

16 Wirral Council invoices for temp senior managers (IT & SEN), other temps and catering

16 Wirral Council invoices for temp senior managers (IT & SEN), other temps and catering

                                                       

Below are sixteen invoices (among many) that I requested from Wirral Council during the short inspection period when local government electors can inspect and receive copies of contracts and invoices for the last financial year. Each thumbnail image links to a higher resolution copy of each invoice.

I made a trip on Friday afternoon to pick up copies and thought I would start with ones that relate to the recent story in the Wirral Globe Wirral Council freelance staff and consultants are costing taxpayers millions which follows on from my blog post in March Why has Wirral Council spent £6,003,273.07 on temporary staff over the past 10 months?. All except one of the invoices below are for agency staff.

Eleven of the sixteen invoices (various numbers below) are from Odgers Interim who describe themselves on their website as “a leading UK interim management recruitment firm”. These are for the services of an Interim Head of IT (the previous Head of IT took redundancy in March 2013 as the Head of IT post was deleted in a senior management restructure) and an Interim Strategic SEN Lead (the previous SEN Lead Paul Ashcroft left Wirral Council in December 2013, just before it was made public that Lyndale School could close).

The Interim Head of IT (bear in mind the Head of IT post was deleted in the 2012 management restructure to produce “savings”) provided by Odgers Interim cost Wirral Council a daily rate of £695+VAT/day according to the monthly invoices.

Phil Ward (SEN Lead) who chaired the Lyndale School consultation meetings
Phil Ward (SEN Lead) who chaired the Lyndale School consultation meetings

The Interim Strategic SEN Lead Phil Ward (see the photo) was also provided by Odgers Interim. He cost Wirral Council (surprisingly) more than the Interim Head of IT. Odgers Interim were charging Wirral Council £775+VAT/day for his services.

Four of the rest of the invoices (numbers 497-500) are also for agency staff. Invoices 497 to 499 are from Badenoch & Clark. Unfortunately I only have been given the first page of these two page invoices (presumably the second missing pages are timesheets). Each of the Badenoch & Clark ones are marked “STRICTLY PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL” . I presume that the rates (£348.10, £345 and £348.10) are daily rates, so these invoices are just for short-term cover mainly for a week, but the last invoice is for three and a half days.

There is also a CIPFA (invoice numbered 500) (Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy) invoice for 19 days of interim cover at £710 a day for an “associate” (total including VAT £16,188).

Finally invoice 889 is for £1,303.25 + VAT (total £1,563.90) is from Carringtons Catering Limited for the catering at the public meeting on the 2nd June 2014 at the Floral Pavilion. This was the meeting last year at which Cllr Steve Foulkes was made Mayor.

Having these long-term temporary arrangements has to be more expensive to Wirral Council than recruiting new people. I do realise that in the Wirral Globe article that Joe Blott explains that they’re had trouble recruiting to the SEN post. It also makes you wonder why in the first place in 2012 that the Head of IT post was deleted and whether the “savings” of that 2012 management restructure (slightly offset by the three new strategic directors posts) were achievable?

Wirral Council invoice 67 Odgers Interim March 2014 Interim Head of IT 19 days @ £695 + VAT £15846 thumbnail
Wirral Council invoice 67 Odgers Interim March 2014 Interim Head of IT 19 days @ £695 + VAT £15846 thumbnail

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