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Opus LGSS – the joint venture recruitment agency for Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire County Council - LGSS

Opus LGSS – the joint venture recruitment agency for Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire County Council

Historically, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) spent a combined c£25m per annum on agency staff, resulting from high agency fees, non-negotiable salaries and candidates who were not always suitable for the public sector.

The Challenge

The two councils had three primary objectives:

  • to have greater influence over the quality and pay of agency workers
  • to achieve financial savings by reducing agency costs
  • to achieve a continued supply of agency workers

The Solution

LGSS Procurement took up the challenge and discovered Opus People Solutions (Opus); a recruitment agency owned by Suffolk County Council. Unlike a traditional agency, which must cater for its own commercial interest as well as a wide spectrum of clients, Opus acts solely in the interests of Suffolk County Council and recruits specifically to local government values and criteria.

In July 2016, Opus and LGSS embarked on a joint venture owned by Opus, CCC and NCC. Opus LGSS People Solutions (Opus LGSS) will recruit temporary and interim workers on behalf of CCC and NCC.

Both councils will receive the value of Opus’ methodology, systems and experience, while having greater influence and control over candidate fees and pay.

LGSS Head of Procurement, Paul White said:

“Opus LGSS has led to a more significant understanding of organisational values, direction and strategy.

Crucially, managers no longer lose time doing their own quality checks before interview.”

– Paul White, Head of Procurement

 

If Opus LGSS are unable to source a candidate directly, they will draw from their Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS); an extended agency supply chain containing approximately 90 recruitment agencies.

A self-service system automates manager requests, designated placements and employee timesheets, making calls to an agency contact centre redundant. Opus LGSS were able to make further cost savings by sharing the self-service software with Opus People Solutions.

On launch, Opus LGSS transferred circa 200 agency workers from Guidant (the previous provider) to CR.net. The changeover occurred seamlessly in 24 hours. Employees received new log in details and a number to call if they needed support. There were no delays in payment.

The LGSS HR team has also supported the initiative, providing support with policy issues around the use of agency workers and communicating these guidelines into the wider workforce strategy.

Results

Opus LGSS began recruiting for Cambridgeshire County Council on 9th January 2017. In the initial nine months of operation, CCC saved £107,000 – 40% more than projected savings for the first year.

Opus LGSS recruited 59% of temporary administrative and business support staff at the same rate as those on permanent contracts, showing their commitment to driving down fees.

Since going live, CCC have seen a steady rise of directly sourced candidates. In February 2017, 8% of temporary workers were employed from source, with 92% via the DPS. In July 2017, 22% of temporary workers were employed from source, with a reduced 77% through the supply chain.

Opus LGSS are already ahead of their target to directly source 17% of candidates by 31 March 2018. By March 2019, estimates predict that 44% of temporary workers will be direct recruits, creating annual savings of over £300,000.

Next Steps

Opus LGSS went live for Northamptonshire County Council on 31st July 2017. It’s currently too early to analyse data but managers are pleased with the service, noting a higher calibre of applications so far.

Opus LGSS estimates a turnover of approximately £20m, with dividends for the owners in future years. This is in addition to annual financial savings, projected to rise year by year as Opus LGSS recruit a higher percentage of directly sourced workers at a reduced rate.

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