Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey have achieved a significant victory after the Conservative-run administration finally agreed to invest in key worker housing for staff.

The proposals will see the county council investing in housing for staff in key roles such as social workers, highways engineers and those who work with children, and were agreed to following a meeting of the council on December 6th, but follow years of campaigning and pressure by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Cllr Ian Beardsmore, who brought forward the proposal, said:

“I am delighted that the county council has unanimously agreed to invest in key worker housing for its staff. This is a “win-win-win” for the council, its staff and council tax payers as it will help the council retain key staff, reduce the amount of money it spends on expensive agency staff and will free up resources which can instead be spent on essential services for Surrey residents. Last year the county council spent £14.9 million on agency staff and this simply cannot be allowed to continue.

“The next step is for the council to agree a plan and timetable for these proposals, and I look forward to these being presented to councillors as quickly as possible”.

The motion that was passed unanimously at Council on 6 December 2016 was as follows:

“The Council notes the difficulties in recruiting and retaining skilled staff to work for the County Council, the high cost of agency staff and that the situation is becoming critical as the council’s financial position worsens. This Council has previously agreed that more emphasis should be given to key worker housing as one approach to dealing with this problem. The Council now agrees explore the options available to enhance the provision of key worker housing in Surrey, to help recruit and retain more skilled staff whilst reducing agency spend.”

The figures outlining the 2015/16 council spend on agency staff (p16).

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