Councils Slammed over Cost of Temps; EMPLOYMENT: Union's Fury over Millions Paid to Agencies by Local Authorities

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Byline: By Hannah Murdoch

ALMOST pounds 8 million of taxpayers' money was spent on temporary staff by councils in Coventry and Warwickshire last year.

The shocking figure was revealed by the GMB trade union following an investigation under the Freedom of Information Act into how much authorities spent on temps and agency staff in 2005.

Coventry City Council topped the league of councils in the area with pounds 5.5 million being shelled out in the eight months between April and December last year.

Coventry was the 49th highest spender in a nationwide list of 353 councils.

But its spending paled in comparison with neighbouring Birmingham City Council, which topped the league with pounds 51 million.

The GMB discovered more than pounds 1.3 billion was spent nationwide on temps last year.

Brian Strutton, national secretary for the GMB, said: "This is a horrific abuse of the public purse and GMB members are appalled at the waste of public money as a result of management's failure to put in place adequate levels of permanent staff. …