Is that because of dictat from above that there are to be no contractors?
Yes, I'm afraid it is, I had no choice and no leeway.
I've spent a lot of time and effort on my recruitment and where I've made a mistake and got a type 2 contractor (contracting because they couldn't get or keep a permie role) then I've moved them on. My contractors are at the ninja end of the skill/effort set.
I'm actively persuing other roles for them in my network of contracts and doing the best I can to see them in new gigs ASAP. Doing what we're doing is fine - it's part of business, but I don't personally agree with this sort of thing right before Christmas.