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Interim manager numbers in public sector drops to four-year low, reports Interim Partners

David Woods , 27 Mar 2012

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The proportion of interim managers working in the public sector has hit a pre-credit crunch low, according to Interim Partners.

Its findings reveal just 34% of interim assignments were undertaken in the public sector in Q4 2011, the lowest proportion since Q4 2007, when only 30% of interims were working in the public sector.

The proportion of interims working in the public sector peaked at 55% in Q4 2009 as public spending peaked during the recession.*

Daily rates for interim managers working in the public sector have declined by 10.3% over the past 12 months, from £728 per day to £653 per day.

In comparison, daily rates for interims in the private sector have increased by an average of 6.5% since Q4 2010, from £741 per day to £789 per day.

The research showed 39% of private sector assignments are in the banking and finance sector, down from 43% in Q3 2011.

Growing number of assignments outside the UK 6% of all interim assignments are outside the UK, up from 3% in Q3 2011.

Doug Baird, MD of Interim Partners, said: "Despite the transformational change that much of the public sector is expected to go through, the use of interim managers has become politically very sensitive. That is a shame as interims, with their change management experience, are ideally placed to ensure that public sector reforms improve service levels."

"With thousands of public sector workers losing their jobs, there are fewer opportunities for interim managers in public sector bodies. Contract workers tend to be first to be culled in any headcount reduction, which has impacted demand for interims."

"Despite public sector organisations' reluctance to hire, there are pockets of demand for interims with specific experience at managing cost-cutting programmes and driving through efficiencies."

He added: "We are still seeing quite high demand for interims in the NHS, as trusts implement cost-reduction programmes. Cutting costs in a healthcare environment can be particularly demanding as the need to ensure patient safety means that cuts have to be made in a very measured way.

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Interim Partners says that the wave of mergers currently underway between NHS trusts is also fuelling demand for interims to handle post-merger integration work. 

Doug Baird says: "The merger of trusts often creates a significant spike in workload which interim managers are ideally suited for. Interim managers will bring unrivalled experience of developing business plans for other organisations, which NHS trusts are not likely to possess in their existing management teams."

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