The latest quarterly Government Index from supply management specialist Comensura reveals that public sector use of temporary/contracting staff climbed by 4.6% in Q3 2013 compared to Q3 2012 – an appreciably higher increase than anticipated.

The rise strongly suggests that local authority hirers are recruiting temporary and contracting staff in order to deliver public services as flexibly as possible. The proportion of temporary staff in professional and managerial roles rose strongly, indicating the emergence of a new approach amongst hirers, who appear more willing to appoint skilled temporary staff such as Umbrella Company Employees into higher paid managerial and executive positions.

The biggest increases in temporary and contracting staff in the public sector, however, were seen in IT and construction, which saw increases of 24% and 51.8% respectively. Comensura’s managing director, Jamie Horton, said that although a rise in temp hiring had been expected because of the traditionally high demand for contingent workers over the summer, the increase had “grown beyond what we predicted”.

He added: “These findings are positive; local authorities have experienced a tough time of late, with further cuts to their budgets announced back in June, but they appear to be proactively reviewing their staffing decisions to accommodate temporary working. They have recognised the value and importance of a flexible workforce, which in turn has allowed them to continue delivering services to the public during a time of financial strain.”

Younger workers, however, are being recruited into temporary roles far less strongly than older workers, suggesting that more training and support must be made available to provide them with the opportunities that often act as gateways to permanent positions.

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