Bridgend Council has revealed its ongoing struggles with recruiting staff for a number of key front-line services at an annual performance review.
Documents given to council bosses said that a number of vacancies had become hard to fill across the authority, resulting in increased workloads that were “having an impact on the resilience of the very lean staff resources.”
The review took place at a scrutiny committee meeting held earlier this month, where both officers and cabinet members discussed the authority’s quarterly performance against their well-being objectives from the Corporate Plan for 2023-28.
The lengthy session discussed a number of performance indicators from council directorates including social services, education, and communities, highlighting that 68.3% of the objectives were either completed, excellent or good, while 31.7% were said to be adequate or unsatisfactory.
However, issues which seemed to re-occur across a number of areas were those in recruitment. This was noted particularly in the communities directorate – responsible for tasks such as highway maintenance, regeneration and development – where there was said to be a number of unfilled professional or managerial posts.
The report which broke down the performance said there were currently 68 vacancies from a range of positions, and read: “The number of vacancies in the directorate across professional services has also risen, with now 68 unfilled posts, equating to 40%, in key managerial areas and professional service posts.
“These include in structural and drainage engineers, surveyors, architects, transport planning and highway engineers. These posts have been advertised on a number of occasions, but it is clear that current market conditions are making these vacancies very challenging to fill.
“As a result, it is becoming clear that the pressures of an increased workload, significant priority projects and the sustained delivery of high-quality visible front facing services, against this backdrop of an increasing number of staff vacancies, is having an impact on the resilience of the very lean staff resources. It is not possible to progress all projects in a timely fashion and continuous prioritisation of work is essential for delivery.”
Similar issues were also noted in the social services directorate – with the report saying the problem had led to an increased use of temporary and agency staff at a higher cost.
It read: “Workforce is a significant risk. Despite improvements, there is still an over reliance on agency workforce in children’s social work and agency carers hours in in-house care and support services for adults. Agency is used to mitigate the risk of not meeting statutory duties. The use of agency workers can impact on quality of experience (particularly if there is high turnover of agency staff) and is expensive compared to permanent workforce.”
The report was described as being the first monitoring report completed in year one of the new five year Corporate Plan 2023-28, with its seven new well-being objectives. These were noted by members in attendance following discussions.
Bridgend council’s seven corporate well-being objectives are set out as follows:
A County Borough where we protect our most vulnerable
A County Borough with fair work, skilled, high-quality jobs and thriving towns
A County Borough with thriving valleys communities
A County Borough where we help people meet their potential
A County Borough that is responding to the climate and nature emergency
A County Borough where people feel valued, heard and part of their community
A County Borough where we support people to live healthy and happy lives