This report is part of a series of monthly surveys of all councils in England and Wales collecting key workforce data on how the sector is responding to COVID-19.
This report is part of a series of monthly surveys of all councils in England and Wales collecting key workforce data on how the sector is responding to COVID-19. An online survey is emailed to heads of human resources, or a nominated contact, in councils from England and Wales on the second Wednesday of the month. 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 14 April 2021 and covers the week ending 9 April 2021. The overall response rate was 55 per cent and covered around a third of the total workforce.
- Some 29 per cent of councils reported recruiting additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) in the week ending 9 April 2021. In total 1,636 additional staff had been recruited in responding authorities: the median number of staff per authority was five and the mean was 26.
- Nearly three-quarters of respondent councils (138 respondents) have recorded deaths in service since lockdown. A total of 691 deaths in service were reported by respondents since the start of lockdown (cause not specified).
- Thirty-eight per cent of councils reported that they had furloughed at least one member of staff. In total, responding authorities reported there were 6,477 staff furloughed in the week ending 9 April 2021, which was 1.2 per cent of the current workforce.
- The main reason given for furloughing staff was that the funding had stopped (51 per cent) or that a service had stopped (43 per cent).
- Some 62 per cent of councils had redeployed staff. In total, in the responding authorities, there were 3,822 staff redeployed in the week ending 9 April 2021, which was one per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff redeployed was one and the mean was 22.
- Just over four out of five councils (83 per cent) reported that they had at least one member of staff unavailable for work. In total, respondents reported there were 22,323 staff unavailable for work in the week ending 9 April 2021, four per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff unavailable for work was 27 and the mean was 125.
- Fifty-five per cent of staff were unavailable due to ‘non-COVID sickness’ and 12 per cent were unavailable through ‘self-isolation (other)’.
- When asked whether individual services had enough staff to run them normally or not, the worst affected service was public health, with 11 per cent of councils with this service reporting they were operating with severe disruption due to staffing numbers. A further 19 per cent of single tier and county councils reported that public health services were operating with moderate disruption.
- When asked to assess the council overall, in terms of whether there are enough staff to run services normally or not, 53 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-nine per cent reported they had about the right amount of PPE or more than they need. Eighty-eight per cent said all the staff who need testing can access it.
- Looking ahead, councils were asked if they were experiencing significant difficulties recruiting for some posts or not: 99 (50 per cent) said they were. Councils were subsequently asked to choose from a list of specialist occupations where they were experiencing difficulties: 100 per cent of county councils were having difficulties recruiting children’s social workers.
- In district councils, 55 per cent of those that responded to the question said they were having problems recruiting planning officers and 45 per cent said they were having problems recruiting environmental health officers.
- Councils were asked to choose the five occupations or roles where recruitment difficulties were most acute. Again, all respondent county councils reported that they had acute difficulties recruiting children’s social workers.
- Out of the councils who had said they had acute difficulties in recruiting children’s social workers, 43 per cent said they had both difficulty recruiting generally and difficulty recruiting the required expertise, experience or qualification.
- Councils were asked if they are likely to recruit additional staff specifically in response to COVID-19 and/or the EU transition or not: 37 per cent said they were likely recruit additional staff in response to COVID-19, 39 per cent said they were not likely to recruit additional staff at all. Nineteen per cent of respondents said they did not know.
- Councils were asked to look ahead and think about staff and what they were considering doing in the current financial year. Nineteen per cent of those that answered this question said that they were thinking of reducing staff numbers overall in 2021/22. Thirty-eight per cent of those that answered this question said they were thinking to increase apprenticeships in 2021/22.
- Councils were asked to think about the COVID-19 vaccination and whether they thought that the staff who need the vaccine had received it or not: 60 per cent reported that all or most of the staff who need the vaccine had received it.
- Councils were asked whether they had used each of a list of employment support schemes or opportunities in the previous 12 months, whether they were currently using them, or whether they planned to use them in the next 12 months. The most used scheme was apprenticeship incentives, with 71 per cent of councils reporting they had used, were currently using or planned to use these.
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