Changes are being made to the expenses new recruits to Dorset County Council can claim – to help attract more staff.

The authority has suffered problems in tempting staff to move into Dorset, mainly because of the relatively high housing costs.

Now the expenses system for those moving in is about to change, subject to Cabinet approval.

The council believes a new system of payments will make it easier for those who want to rent to get financial help, a change from the previous system which made payments mainly for those wanting to buy.

Cllr Ray Bryan, welcomed the move at the Staffing Committee, but said more needed to be done.

“I am not sure this goes far enough if we compare to industry standards, but the big issue for me which we need to look at, is how much it costs people to live here when they’ve moved. We also need to look at cheaper housing for key workers.”

The scheme proposes an advance payment of up to £2,500 to help meet initial moving costs and a mortgage, or rent subsidy, for those moving from cheaper areas for up to two years.

Councillors were told that the changes were likely to be ‘broadly cost-neutral.’ The existing allowances were only used nine times in the last twelve months, on each occasion by social workers coming to work for Dorset Children’s Services.

Committee chairman Cllr Peter Wharf described the previous scheme as not being fit for purpose: “It was set up at a time when you could buy a house for three times your salary, now it’s more like ten times.”

Other fees, which are currently allowed, include up to £935 for replacing curtains, carpets and other items which may not be suitable in the new house; travel costs between home and temporary accommodation for up to six months and up to £97 per week, for up to six months, where families are unavoidable having to maintain two homes.

Some travel and subsistence costs, in addition to one or two days leave, can also be granted while searching for a new home.