THE impact of Brexit uncertainty on hiring decisions has been underlined by a Royal Bank of Scotland survey showing permanent staff appointments fell for a third straight month in September, and at the fastest rate since January 2017.

The RBS Report on Jobs also found temp billings grew sharply, again for the third month in a row, as there were further signs of employers taking on short-term staff to fill roles.

The demand and supply imbalances continued to push up pay in September, as salaries awarded to permanent new starts and temp wages rose, it was found. Weaker growth in starting salaries contrasted with stronger temp pay inflation, RBS said.

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The rate of starting salary growth was the slowest since December 2016, while temporary wages increased at the fastest rate in three months.

Recruitment agencies in Scotland highlighted a “solid fall” in permanent placements in September, again for the third month in a row, and temp staff billings rose in Scotland at a higher rate than the UK as a whole.

The latest data signalled a further deterioration in the supply of labour in Scotland. Permanent candidate availability fell sharply, with the decline in Scotland markedly quicker than the UK average.

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RBS also found the supply of temporary candidates in Scotland declined, although the pace of deterioration was the slowest in four months.

Sebastian Burnside, RBS chief economist, said that growth of demand for permanent staff eased, “indicating further softening of the labour market”.

He said: “Overall, September data showed little signs of a recovery, with the Scottish labour market registering a relatively subdued performance in the context of historical data.

“Moreover, uncertainty continues to weigh on hiring decisions, with firms turning to short-term staff to fill vacancies until there is greater clarity around Brexit.”