DORSET County Council’s spending on consultants and temporary staff has significantly reduced, cabinet members have been told.

The authority launched a review into arrangements for temporary staff earlier this year after a Dorset Echo investigation revealed a temporary worker employed through an agency to work on an IT project cost £167,000 in a year.

The Echo also obtained a list of other high-earning agency staff, who cost the council almost £1.3million over three years.

Figures now produced in a report for the council’s cabinet show that overall spending on non-directly employed contract workers was down in the 2011/12 financial year compared to 2010/11.

Spending on consultancy, which included freelance and self-employed workers, was down 40 per cent and spending on agency staff was down 20 per cent on the previous year.

In total the council spent just over £5million in 2011/12 on its non-directly employed workforce compared to just under £7million the year before.

Director for corporate resources Elaine Taylor told the cabinet: “It is pleasing to report to members that the trends are downwards.”

In the future members will also receive a regular report informing them of all non-contract staff earning more than £4,000 a month on a directorate by directorate basis.

Cabinet member for corporate resources Spencer Flower said: “It is important that there is visibility about this type of expenditure.”

The Echo investigation into the top agency earners earlier this year revealed that the council spent £167,081.76 on an IT services project manager employed through an agency in one year at a rate of over £840 a day.

The amount paid out was £20,000 more than the salary paid to chief executive David Jenkins.

Another top earner employed through an agency was a principal manager for highways and transportation who cost the council £93,259.98 in 2010/11.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group of councillors at Dorset County Council Janet Dover, who expressed her concerns when the figures were revealed, said she was pleased some progress was being made in reducing temporary staff costs.

She also said she was glad to see the process of employing temporary staff was being made more transparent and the council would have to justify why these people were needed.

Councillor Dover said: “Clearly the reduction in costs is very important and another important thing for me is they need to justify why they require the use of this sort of staff. That has got to be a step in the right direction.