SOUTHEND Council forked out almost £1million on agency staff in one single month, it has been revealed. 

Figures published by the council show spend on temporary staffing in September was at £967,000. 

This accounted for 690 transactions in the month with the majority spent with one agency firm, Hays Specialist Recruitment.

However, in a budget update last month the Tory administration said there is a process of reviewing and implanting savings to reduce Southend Council’s overspend.

One of the actions mentioned was for the “workforce panel to review the recruitment and usage of permanent and agency staff”.

The document also revealed a lot of the agency staff were within two sectors “children and education services” and “adult social care”.

It is believed September figures are slightly raised compared to other months due to seasonal staff too.

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Council, said this is something the council is continuing to crackdown on.

He also revealed they have reduced a number of the agency staff including one contract which paid an individual £1,000 a day.

Mr Cox said: “We have been cracking down on this. But we always knew it was not going to be quick to turn around. As before it was eyewatering amounts, it was colossal.

“So, we are taking steps in the right direction. We have reduced the amount – including one on £1,000 a day no longer being on our books.

“In some areas, we can save money by looking at the different roles. However, that is not to say you still need some agency staff.

“However, we are working to bring it down further, it is coming in the right direction as we have taken measures to reduce it. In the budget statements, it is again about reducing the reliance on agency staff further too."

Mr Cox said he "couldn't understand" why the council had so many long term agency staff prior to his party taking over. 

He added: “I would have expected to have seen a lot more permanent positions come back into use more quickly."

Southend Council has been contacted for comment.