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How Islington Council moved away from outsourcing and cut costs at the same time

Islington Council is taking a step away from outsourcing, claiming it can cut costs by rebuilding its internal IT resource instead.

The local authority has announced it is making efforts to recruit and train graduates in its digital services department in order to reduce expenditure on long-term contracting of agency staff.

According to Islington, the 12 permanent posts offered would see graduates trained by specialised agency staff in order to develop skills that would eventual allow them to run the digital services.

This move was approved by the council’s policy and performance scrutiny committee, whose report said the programme would mix job and study-based learning and utilise existing workers to ensure knowledge was shared retained within the organisation.

The committee released a report after investigation whether the annual £300m spend on goods and services by the authority could be made more efficient in line with recent cuts.

Committee wants to limit number of outsourced staff

Its review revealed particular concern about the number of outside staff Islington hires to run its digital services and the cost this incurs.

“In one particular instance an agency member of staff had been in post since 2004, which is unacceptable,” says the report.

“While the committee have noted that here may be occasions where agency and consultancy staff need to be engaged, the high salaries and length of time that some workers have been in post cannot continue,” it adds.

Going forward, any agency staff needing to work beyond a six-month period will be required to gain approval from the borough’s chief executive.

Besides this, quarterly reports on agency staff detailing finance and performance must be provided, as well as information about how long a staff member has been with the organisation.

The committee’s review also discovered that the number of staff in digital services was cut from 50 in 2010 to just 18 now.

However, the council still needs agency staff to cover a “national shortfall in qualified IT staff.”