COVID-19 workforce survey research report, week ending 27 November 2020

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

Workforce

An online survey is emailed to heads of human resources, or a nominated contact, in councils from England and Wales 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 2 December 2020 and covers the week ending 27 November 2020. The overall response rate was 55 per cent and covered around a third of the total workforce.

Key findings

  • Some 34 per cent of councils reported recruiting additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) in the week ending 27 November 2020. In total 1,534 additional staff had been recruited in responding authorities: the median number of staff per authority was five and the mean was 26.
  • Three-fifths of respondent councils (122) recorded deaths in service since lockdown. A total of 551 deaths in service were reported by respondents since the start of lockdown (cause not specified).
  • Twenty-two per cent of councils reported that they had furloughed at least one member of staff full time. In total, responding authorities reported there were 2,982 staff furloughed – full time in the week ending 27 November 2020, which was 0.6 per cent of the current workforce.
  • In addition, 20 per cent of councils reported that they had furloughed at least one member of staff part-time. In total, respondents reported there were 1,965 staff furloughed part time in the week ending 27 November 2020, which was 0.4 per cent of the current workforce.
  • The main reason given for furloughing staff was that the service had stopped (68 per cent) or that funding had stopped (29 per cent).
  • Some 56 per cent of councils had redeployed staff. In total in the responding authorities there were 4,128 staff redeployed in the week ending 27 November 2020, which was one per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff redeployed was five and the mean was 24.
  • Almost nine out of ten councils (87 per cent) reported that they had at least one member of staff unavailable for work. In total, respondents reported there were 28,433 staff unavailable for work in the week ending 27 November 2 2020, six per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff unavailable for work was 50 and the mean was 158.
  • Twenty per cent of staff were unavailable through ‘self-isolation (other)’ and 50 per cent were unavailable due to ‘non-COVID sickness’.
  • When asked whether individual services had enough staff to run them normally or not, the worst affected services were adults social care and schools: 11 per cent and 11 per cent of single tier and county councils, respectively, reported these services were operating with severe disruption due to staffing numbers. A further 33 per cent of single tier and county councils reported that schools and adults social care were operating with moderate disruption. Also badly affected was children’s services, with 23 per cent reporting moderate disruption.
  • When asked to assess the council overall, in terms of whether there are enough staff to run services normally or not, 60 per cent of councils reported they were not operating normally
  • Councils were asked about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing for staff. Ninety-five per cent reported they had about the right amount of PPE, whilst one per cent had less than they needed cent said all the staff who need testing can access it.
  • Looking ahead, councils were asked what they were currently considering doing about staffing within this financial year. Forty-five per cent said they were ‘making no substantive changes’, but 17 per cent said they were considering reducing the overall staffing level.

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workforce research report cover - week ending 27 November 2020
Published by:
LGA
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