Jersey's Deputy Chief Minister says the government is "absolutely committed" to reducing the millions of pounds spent on agency and other temporary staff every year - but couldn't make any guarantees on consultants.
Deputy Kirsten Morel's comments came after it emerged that former Chief Minister John Le Fondré's government spent more than £100m on consultants, interim staff and agencies in its final year.
Of this figure, around £30m was spent on consultants, while more than £27m was spent on fixed-term contractors and £18m went to healthcare and social workers from agencies.
The requirement for the government to produce six-monthly spending reports on consultants and other external labour was the result of a proposition from Deputy Morel, which was passed by the States Assembly in 2019 following strong criticism of previous high levels of spending.
He told Express the latest reports "really highlighted the use of temporary and agency staff", adding: "I was quite surprised at the overall number, but the rise on previous years hasn't been so much in the area of consultancy – it has been on temporary and agency workers."
Pictured: The last government spent around £22m on consultants for the now-shelved Our Hospital project in its final year.
He said this particularly applied to contingent labour costs – where individuals are contracted to perform specific roles because the expertise isn't available 'in-house’ – in areas such as healthcare.
This accounted for around £19m in costs from July 2021 to June 2022.
"That's definitely something we as a government are looking to address," Deputy Morel continued.
"We need to develop our own talent as best we can because we are competing in a market where there are staff shortages. Where we can, we need to do everything possible to recruit people permanently to live in Jersey, do their jobs in Jersey and get to know the Island as Islanders – that is particularly important in healthcare.
"At the end of the day, when you are hiring temporary staff to cover a long-term period for permanent staff then the cost is much more expensive."
He stressed that temporary staff should only be used "in the short-term".
"It feels like the government has got itself into a position where it is using temporary staff long-term – and that needs to change.
"I appreciate that it is better to have a temporary staff worker than no staff workers, but it should always be seen as a short-term bridging solution rather than a long-term solution," he added.
He said the new government was "absolutely committed" to reducing the amount spent on temporary and locum staff, although he could not say the same for consultants – for which he noted there would "always be a need".
Of the main government schemes, around £22m was spent on consultants for the now-shelved Our Hospital project, while more than £7m went to consultants for the ITS programme – which aims to overhaul the government’s finance, payroll and procurement computer systems.
Deputy Morel said: "On the consultants front, I do know that a lot was spent on the ITS project and the ministers in charge of that area have been looking at that, and seeking to reduce the spent on consultants for that particular project."
He added that this would include making sure consultants were used "where they are needed" so that they didn't become "relied upon".
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