HIGH paid temps employed by south Essex councils are costing taxpayers as much as £800 a day, the Echo can reveal.

Both Basildon and Southend councils spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on interim staff, despite making staff redundant and cutting services.

Among those receiving astonishing amounts in 2011/12 was Mike Boyle, Southend council’s interim head of adult commissioning, who was paid £779 a day.

Adding up his salary over the year, he would have taken home £202, 750.

Mr Boyle, who did not receive sick pay or holidays, was one of six temps at the authority who earned more than £300 a day.

Basildon Council’s highest paid temp, who is an executive director and still in post was paid £565 and was among seven other staff who earned more than £300 a day, all of which were brought in through agencies.

Claire Wormald, Unison branch secretary for Southend, was shocked by the figures given the raft of cuts made in local government.

She estimated that 120 jobs had been cut in 2012 at Southend Council, with up to 90 under threat in 2013.

She said: “It is a concern for us that this work has been carried out through temporary staff when it could have been done through normal staff.

“There could have been quite a few jobs that could have been saved if the council had not been expending on these interim posts.

“There isn’t really any evidence on the contrary that this benefits the council long term, so why don’t they retain staff instead?”

Essex County Council has cut close to 1,000 workers since 2009, but employed a staggering 162 interim staff on their books costing it £7.2million.

Two of the temps were paid more than £900 a day.

In total, Basildon Council spent £501,000 on temporary staff in 2011/12, while Southend’s seven temporary employees set the authority back £330,000.

Most of the county council’s multi-million expense was paid to recuitment company Capita, with only three members of staff paid directly.

Councils justified their costs by claiming post temporary staff are brought in to cover sickness and vacancies.

But Basildon Council’s interim executive director has been in post since August 2011 and their role doesn’t end until April 2013. Only two of their eight temporary staff were in roles that ended in under 12 months.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be shocked that local authorites in the county are spending so much money on interim staff.

“Temporary staff may be needed sometimes to fill roles in the short term, but these figures suggest they are being used for far longer than that by local authorities which is an enormous waste of money.

“Councils need to explain why these staff were needed or to take action to deliver better value for our money.”