PAYMENT of £115,000 to a temporary employee for six months’ work has been justified by Highland Council, which claims the move has saved up to £900,000.
The interim head of digital transformation was paid almost £40,000 more to fill the role for six months than the £77,000 annual salary offered when the contract had been permanent.
Opposition leader Maxine Smith demanded answers from the administration about the large bill for agency staff when she discovered how much the manager had been paid.
But now Cllr Alister Mackinnon, chairman of the corporate resources committee, has defended the spend.
In a report for Thursday, September 7's full council meeting, he said the post was advertised as a temporary position in November last year as a review of senior managers was imminent.
He added: “The council was able to recruit a highly experienced interim manager who has provided excellent leadership.
“Most importantly the council has, as a result of securing the services of this interim manager, successfully managed a number of strategic risks which would have resulted in both reputational damage and significant unbudgeted costs to the council which could have risen to as much as £900,000.
“In this context the investment in this post has been justified and the budget of £100,000 for the post of head of digital transformation has been used to meet costs, along with some additional investment from the service budget.”
He added that permanent arrangements for the post can be made following decisions on the council’s senior management structure, to be made at the same meeting.
Councillor Smith discovered how much the temporary manager was paid during an investigation into the salaries of agency staff, when she also uncovered that 447 staff currently employed by the local authority on a temporary basis are paid more than £100 per day.