County council rules out ‘printing money’ to attract staff
Last updated Jun 22, 2022
North Yorkshire County Council's offices in Northallerton.
North Yorkshire County Council's offices in Northallerton.

North Yorkshire County Council leaders have pledged they will not be “printing money” to boost its workforce’s wages despite facing its highest staff turnover on record and struggling to recruit staff .

A meeting of the council, which employs some 15,000 people, heard that many staff had left for higher salaries, resulting in a turnover rate of nearly 16 per cent.

The Tory-led authority’s executive heard the county’s significantly lower unemployment level than the region was exacerbating the recruitment issue, and despite launching innovative recruitment campaigns finding staff remained “a significant challenge”.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Bryn Griffiths said that because local government pay had been “significantly suppressed” over austerity and recent pay rises had been outstripped by the private sector. it was not surprising the council had an issue with filling job vacancies.

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Cllr Gareth Dadd, the authority’s finance boss, replied the council had to find a way to respond to workforce competition,

He added while the council had set aside £375,000 in bonuses to boost social care recruitment, “it’s no good just printing money”.

Gareth Dadd

Gareth Dadd

He said it was important the council highlighted the benefits of working in the public sector, adding: 

“Sooner or later local government generally has got to recognise that perhaps its policies and offer isn’t in many cases what it was 40 years ago, we are competing with the private sector.”

Condemning the RMT union’s railway strike as “absolutely disgraceful”, Cllr Dadd said the cost of living crisis was not just confined to transport workers.

He revealed a cost of living crisis action plan would be considered by the authority’s executive next month, coupled with a revised list of priorities, such as council tax reductions, benefits and revenues.

Cllr Dadd said: 

“From that I am confident we will see our priority will be helping those that are really struggling. It is only a small part, but nonetheless it flags up the commitment.”

People in crisis

The meeting heard the council’s Local Assistance Fund, designed to help people in crisis, would be used as part of the initiative, and while the fund had spent almost £200,000 more than its £675,000 budget last year, it would not be capped.

Stronger communities executive member Cllr David Chance said: 

“If there is a need we will consider it.”

He said the council was working in numerous ways to help with the crisis.

Alongside the council injecting funds into the Citizens Advice network, school holidays programmes and a domestic property improvement scheme to reduce fuel bills, and as petrol prices continue to soar trading standards officers were visiting numerous “more remote petrol stations to ensure the equipment they use it accurate”.

He said the authority’s Income Maximisation Service, which works to ensure residents receive the best benefits they can from government, has gained about £45 million in additional funds for the county’s residents.

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