Ellie Ames 14 September 2023

Council expands four-day week trial after fresh call to end it

Council expands four-day week trial after fresh call to end it image
Image: scambs.gov.uk

A 12-month four-day week trial at South Cambridgeshire District Council will expand next week, despite local government minister Lee Rowley again calling on the council to end it.

As waste crews begin to trial the four-day week, there will be no collections from homes on Mondays.

South Cambridgeshire began a three-month four-day week trial in January this year after struggling to fill several vacancies and often using agency staff to cover them.

Before the trial, £2m a year was spent on agency staff, a bill the council believes it could halve if all agency posts were filled permanently.

Councillors reviewed an independent assessment of performance data and agreed to extend the trial until the end of March 2024.

The council has recruited to nine of the 23 posts that could not be filled permanently before the trial, which it expects will save £550,000 on agency cover this year, according to a report that will be discussed by the employment and staffing committee on Friday.

Agency spending continues to fluctuate, the council said, and increased recently as agency staff were brought on for short-term programmes.

Last week, local government minister Lee Rowley wrote to the council with a repeated request to cease the trial.

Council leader Cllr Bridget Smith said: ‘We have consistently said that this is an evidence-based trial to see whether a four-day week can improve our critical recruitment issues.'

Cllr Smith added: ‘We need the trial to run for its full planned length, until the end of March, to gather data and assess whether a difference has been made.’

If this article was of interest, then check out our feature, 'Why the four-day week could solve the workforce crisis'.

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