Local councils could save £100m a year with new guidance on hiring agency staff, the government has claimed.
The guidance, drawn up by the London Borough of Havering and supported by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), has been written by local government HR, finance and procurement professionals.
It found that few local authorities had readily available management information about their agency and temporary staff. Data on commission, pay, and quality of service was patchy.
An estimated £500m was spent on agency staff by London boroughs alone in 2004-05, with non-permanent staff accounting for up to 25% of the total workforce.
The guide sets out the different approaches to employing temporary staff supplied to the public sector through agencies. It also offers advice on selecting the approach best suited to an organisation's needs, the latest legal and HR information, and a number of best practice case studies.
John Oughton, chief executive of the OGC, said: "This new guidance will greatly assist local government in obtaining best value for money when procuring temporary staff. With potential annual savings of £100m identified in this area, the amount of efficiency savings that could be released to support better front-line services is highly significant."
Local government must find savings of £6.45bn a year by 2007-08 as part of the Gershon efficiency drive. At least half must be real cash savings that can be redirected to other services, with the remainder coming from productivity improvements.