COVID-19 workforce survey research report, 17 June 2020

This is report is part of a series of bi-weekly surveys of all councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland collecting key workforce data on how the sector is responding to COVID-19.

Research

An online survey is emailed to heads of human resources, or a nominated contact, in councils from England, Wales and Northern Ireland on alternate Wednesdays. The data requested relates to the week ending the preceding Friday. The intention is that this collection is the single national source through which such data is gathered and it will, as appropriate, be shared with government departments and others in addition to providing comparator information for councils.

This report relates to the survey sent out on 3 June. The overall response rate was 67 per cent, and covered over a third of the total workforce.

Key findings

  • Some 27 per cent of councils reported recruiting additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) in the week ending 29 May 2020. In total 1238 additional staff had been recruited: the median number of staff per authority was five and the mean was 22.
  • A third of councils (88) recorded deaths in service since lockdown. A total of 153 deaths were reported (cause not specified).
  • Twenty-five per cent of councils reported that they had furloughed at least one member of staff. In total there were 8561 staff furloughed in the week ending 29 May 2020, which was two per cent of the current workforce. Of those councils that had furloughed staff, the median number furloughed was 70 and the mean was 140 but this varied considerably across different types of authority. The main reason given was that the service had stopped (62 per cent) or that funding had stopped (29 per cent).
  • Some 85 per cent of councils had redeployed at least one member of staff. In total there were 22,266 staff redeployed in the week ending 29 May 2020, which was four per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff redeployed was 43 and the mean was 100.
  • More than nine out of ten councils (93 per cent) reported that they had at least one member of staff unavailable for work. In total there were 40,284 staff unavailable for work in the week ending 29 May 2020, seven per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff unavailable for work was 50 and the mean was 177.
  • Nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) of staff were unavailable through ‘self-isolation’ and 31 per cent were unavailable due to ‘Non-COVID sickness’.
  • When asked whether individual services had enough staff to run them normally or not, the service most badly affected was schools: over a quarter of single tier and county councils reported they were operating with severe disruption due to staffing numbers. Also badly affected were adults and children’s services, with two-fifths and a third of councils respectively reporting moderate or severe disruption.
  • When asked to assess the council overall, in terms of whether there are enough staff to run services normally or not, 46 per cent of councils report minor disruption.
  • Finally, councils were asked about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing for staff. Eighty-eight per cent reported they had about the right amount of PPE they needed; while six per cent had less than they needed. Ninety-four per cent said all the staff who need testing can access it; five per cent said it was available to some of their staff who need it.
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