A STAFFING crisis across East Lothian Council in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic has improved but some services still face challenges, bosses have said.

Competition from neighbouring local authorities and private companies has taken its toll on recruitment attempts in the county, Morag Ferguson, head of corporate services, said.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s audit and governance committee on Tuesday, Ms Ferguson said that a special working group had been established to look at recruitment and retaining staff.

Asked by Councillor Tom Trotter, committee convenor, how far away the council was from having "bodies in place" to resume normal council services, she said that things were getting better.

She told the committee: “It is a mixed picture, with different services experiencing their own challenges in recruitment.

“In some cases, the real crisis was seen last year and they have improved but we still have a number of services still facing staffing challenges in pockets.

“We are competing with other authorities and other companies in the private sector, which has more flexibility over pay.”

Mr Trotter asked about opportunities for school leavers, pointing out that when he left school, a job at the local authority was an attractive prospect for many young people.

However, Ms Ferguson said that, although the council had a successful apprenticeship scheme targeting school leavers, the challenges the council faced meant that there was not always a job available to the youngsters at the end of the training.

She added: “We are also victims of our own success in a way with our apprentices being sought by other employers.”