Councillors urged to promote Powys as a 'good place to live and work'

Staff shortages in some Powys County Council departments have led to councillors being asked to plug the county as a “good place to live and work.”

Gwilym Davies - head of planning
Gwilym Davies - head of planning

At a meeting of the Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, the issue of staff shortages came up as councillors looked at the “cost reduction” programmes based on the financial forecast for 2021/22 up to the end of June.

Some of these reductions are tied in with departments generating income such as on planning application fees.

Head of property, planning and public protection Gwilym Davies said tighter regulation on phosphate levels in rivers as well as a number of open job vacancies was creating an issue.

Committee chairman Councillor Mathew Dorrance asked: “If you are forced to make savings – how far can you go before you are unable to deliver statutory items and are you resourced enough to deliver as it is?”

Mr Davies replied: “We do have the resources to provide statutory requirements, it’s the expectations from customers that’s the worry.

“The biggest threat to our service is the ability to recruit and retain staff, the planning service is struggling we have a number of vacancies.

“We are constantly going out to recruit and not getting enough applicants.”

He urged councillors with large social media followings such as Councillor Dorrance to tell people that the planning services is recruiting and has a “good offer.”

Head of workforce and organisational development, Paul Bradshaw told councillors that the recruitment market is “at its tightest it’s ever been since the 1970s".

Mr Bradshaw said: “It’s not easy to recruit in the more skilled and diverse kind of jobs, we’re doing everything we can – there are three areas we’re looking at.

“Promoting Powys in the best possible light.

“Make the recruitment experience in the council’s website as helpful, easy and slick as it can be.

“The third area is getting out there and visible on the right kind of recruitment boards.”

Mr Bradshaw said that extra resources were being used to get to grips with the issue and that a review of overall recruitment strategy was taking place to make sure opportunities are “not missed.”

“It is a challenge for Powys but it’s for all councils in the UK,” said Mr Bradshaw.

The financial report for the first quarter of 2021/22 forecast that the council is heading for a surplus of £730,000 on a budget of £279.8 million

During the 2021/22 financial year, “cost reductions” of just under £13.4 million are expected to be made.

The report had been discussed by the cabinet back in July.

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