|This is a familiar theme over the years|
The Public Accounts Committee report raises new concerns about Government spending on consultants & temporary staff, as it is disappointed issues identified in 2010 "have not been properly addressed". The Report highlights that departments' overall spending on temporary staff has increased by up to 90% since 2011–12 "and specialist temporary staff often cost twice as much as permanent staff".
The Committee is ‘not convinced’ the Cabinet Office has a clear strategy to reduce the skills gap across government, and is concerned deficiencies in departments' workforce planning "means they do not know their future resource needs and will have to resort more often to using consultants and temporary staff".
It calls for clarity on skills development and recommends that, by December 2016, all government departments should produce a strategic workforce plan to cover the next 5 years. They should also adopt new measures to better ensure temporary staff pay the correct tax.
Filling permanent roles with temporary staff is short-sighted and does nothing to address underlying skills shortages in the civil service, nor to develop its expertise. However, these resources can cost twice as much as permanent staff and the valuable experience in service delivery they gain during the assignment is lost once the assignment ends and they leave.
Consultants & temporary staff can be a flexible and cost-effective part of the government workforce, for example to provide specialist skills that a department requires for a short period only. Their use is therefore justified only when it is not feasible for departments to maintain the necessary skills in-house or to borrow those skills from elsewhere within the civil service.