Temporary workers cost almost £600k

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 August 2014

Archant

A COUNCIL has spent almost £600,000 on two temporary employees, with money paid out on agencies and salaries.

Somerset County Council revealed the hiring of Peter Lewis, interim director for children and learning, cost £318,500 in salary and agency fees.

And £275,000 was paid for the interim director of children’s services during the last financial year.

By contrast, a year earlier, the lead commissioner for children and learning was paid £93,700.

The council is preparing to save £18million, which includes the axing of 100 jobs and cutting almost £1million from youth services.

Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, tweeted that she was ‘appalled’ at the payouts while services were being slashed.

Last June, an inspection by schools watchdog Ofsted into 
the council’s child protection services found them to be ‘inadequate’.

Mr Lewis, who previously worked in Haringey after the Baby P case where a 17-month-old child was repeatedly seen with injuries by health professionals, was hired in a bid to rapidly improve Somerset’s child protection services.

A spokesman for the council said: “Somerset County Council is committed to ensuring the safety of children in Somerset.

“The 2012 and 2013 Ofsted inspections highlighted that our child protection services were not of sufficiently high standard and immediate improvement was needed.

“We took the decision to invest in high quality temporary directors with a proven track record to ensure that improvement was immediate.

“We are pleased to see the Government is acknowledging that improvements have been made since the appointments and we are now in a position to advertise for full time replacements for the two positions.

“We have also significantly boosted numbers of social workers in this crucial area as well as increased the budget. Somerset County Council quite rightly puts a premium on our children’s safety.”

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