Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Leeds City Council is “concerned” that the national shortage of HGV drivers could affect household waste collections in the future.
The observation was made in a new document analysing the costs of overtime and agency staff faced by the authority, and went on to claim more was being done to keep hold of permanent staff who may be tempted by higher pay elsewhere.
The report, set to be discussed next week by councillors, listed one of the largest areas of agency and overtime spending during the current year is in the council’s environmental services department – an area expected to cost the authority an extra £4m during this year.
The report claims this affects both waste collection and household waste sites. It added:
“For the latter, extra staffing has been required to support revised operating patterns with the public booking their visits. There is a concern that the national shortage of HGV drivers could potentially affect Environmental Services, with retention issues reported in other councils.”
According to council officers, one of the reasons for extra overtime being needed is down to “attendance management”, as overall sickness levels had increased from 9.5 days per employee in 2020 to 10.47 in 2021.
They added that the council was also struggling to keep hold of staff, and work was being done to make sure council staff weren’t being tempted away by better paid jobs elsewhere.
The report concluded:
“The current position on the use of overtime and deployment of agency workers has been disrupted and skewed due to Covid-19.
“Demand is affected in different ways, as are opportunities to support services to take measures to review and/or reduce underlying reasons for contingent cover.
“The mid-year position suggests spending will be reduced due to actions taken to lessen reliance on high-cost specialist IDS agency workers. However, front-line services are likely to face further winter demand pressures which could affect the position on overtime.”
The report will be discussed by Leeds City Council’s Resources and Strategy Scrutiny Board on Monday, November 29.