A council spent more than £300,000 on agency staff in 10 months.

Two “interim managers” were paid more than £1,000 a day by East Sussex County Council, while their “head of communications” was paid more than £50,000 for just 83 days’ work.

In total, seven staff were hired by the council on a temporary basis supplied by an agency between January 1 and October 31 this year.

Top of the pay scale was the director of property, who was paid £1,043 a day over 24.5 days, costing £25,552 in total.

He was joined by the director of corporate resources, who was on £1,101 a day and worked 17 days, |racking up a bill for the council of £18,721.

The council has defended the use of agency staff on these salaries, stating that their work would ensure savings in the future.

Leatham Green, head of personnel and training at East Sussex County Council, said: “We’ve employed a small number of interim managers to help us deliver changes to our team structures and budget savings.

'Cost effective'

“Both the interim director of resources and head of communications were employed to manage major projects that will help to deliver the savings we want to achieve over the next three years. We believe our use of consultants across the organisation is both appropriate and cost effective.”

A spokesman for the East Sussex branch of Unison said: “Unison frequently questions the introduction of external appointments on an interim basis and challenges the cost effectiveness of such posts against the salary and on-costs of appointing to the post permanently.

“Some of the posts mentioned have been part-time cover while ongoing permanency plans are being made but we would question, always, where such appointments exceed the costs of individuals within the council acting up etc.

“The union is not wholly against some of the other temporary measures that have been applied such as using the South East Service Partnership to share senior knowledge and costs as this has been shown to reduce the overall staffing costs of such senior posts and has then kept in place jobs at the low end of the salary scale.”

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