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KCC accused of being closed shop for temps

Kent County Council has been accused of paying over the odds for temps to subsidise competition with the private sector.

A senior council source claims that a new managed contract awarded by the council to its commercial recruitment business Kent Top Temps means in-house deparments have to use its services rather than being allowed to shop around for a better deal from outside sources.

The arrangement is one of KCC’s commercial activities which it claims generates £4 million a year profit that help to keep the lid on even higher council tax bills.

It is regarded as one of the most commercially-minded of councils which is involved in numerous activities, including a proposed fuel bulk purchase scheme for the public sector.

KCC denies any subsidy is involved in the KTT scheme and claims other agencies could still be used if no suitable temps are available from KTT.

However, the whistleblower who runs a KCC department and has asked not to be named, says the new system may be costing taxpayers millions of pounds because it is forced to pay around £3 an hour more than it would to an outside agency.

"We are not being given the alternative of going to outside agencies where we could get temporary staff far cheaper. Effectively the situation is that the in-house services such as the one I run are being used to subsidise KTT so that it can undercut the private sector agencies and win business away from them."

Cllr Nick Chard, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "Kent Top Temps charge KCC the same rate as any other agency for temporary staff. Prices are fixed by KCC for all agencies supplying temporary staff following a procurement exercise which will save the ratepayer in excess of £1 million this year."

KCC claims that since April, KTT has provided temporary staff services valued at £1.95m to the council, with other agencies supplying services to KCC worth £3.2m.

>strong>Full story in the latest issue of Kent Business, free with the Kent Messenger Group’s paid-for titles.

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