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Agency workers have become the first casualties of public-sector cuts

David Woods , 18 Oct 2010

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At least 12,000 temporary jobs have been cut in the past three months ahead of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), agency workers have become the first casualties of the squeeze, including a high proportion in crucial front-line roles.

Over 600,000 temporary, contract and interim managers are on assignment within public bodies in any given week. Over 66% of agencies said that there had been a reduction of over 20% in the number of their temporary staff compared with three months ago.

The feedback from recruiters shows 37% of the cuts have focused on admin and other back-office roles. However, it is striking that over 36% of agencies reported an impact on front-line service delivery roles. Looking forward, 94% of agencies expected demand for temporary staff to be greatly reduced over the next 12 months.

Underlining the significance of the survey findings, Kevin Green, REC chief executive, said: "There has been much speculation about what the Spending Review will mean for jobs. The impact on temporary staff has not been factored in; our survey confirms that they have been the first casualties of the public-sector squeeze. This is not just a jobs issue, it is also an issue for how front line services will be delivered in the future. The dilemma will be how will schools operate without supply teachers, how hospitals will function without agency nurses and who will look after our elderly?"

"Agency costs are being seen as a budget that can easily be cut. The opportunity for public-sector employers is that flexible staffing arrangements should form part of cost effective staffing models. Flexible staffing is part of the solution, not the problem."

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