Every conversation I have with a Local authority invariably turns to Planners and Social Care. Not surprising as most councils stopped hiring them in the last recession and we're now feeling the pain.
The NAO highlights also that between 2010 and 2018, the Planning Inspectorate experienced a 13 per cent fall in staff numbers. There are no reliable data on how many planners work in local authorities in England.
So for authorities facing this dilemma, what's the answer?
Too many authorities look at it through a narrow - fill existing jobs now lens - without thinking more broadly.
My top tips would include:
Improve entry level routes into planning with apprenticeships etc.
Directly headhunting talent from neighbouring authorities
Review your roles, development frameworks and rewards packages, benchmark these against competitors and create differentiation
Develop more impactful marketing materials and sell yourselves more persuasively
And assess your recruitment process and bespoke it to make it as friction-free and engaging as possible.
At TMP we've recently hired several senior and mid-tier planners for a number of authorities, but it does involve a more considered and holistic approach involving all of the above.
The good news? Whilst most LAs are now investing heavily in social care recruitment, the approach to planners lags some way behind. So here's your chance to get ahead now.
Where have all the planners gone? The National Audit Office (NAO) recently published its report, Planning for new homes, highlighting the shortage of planners. It found that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) “does not understand the extent of skills shortages in planning”. It points out the number of local authority planning staff fell by 15 per cent between 2006 and 2016. Furthermore, between 2010-11 and 2017-18, in real-terms there was a 37.9 per cent fall in net current expenditure on planning functions by local authorities.