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.
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 18 November 2020 and covers the week ending 13 November 2020. The overall response rate was 57 per cent and covered around a third of the total workforce.
- Some 34 per cent of councils reported recruiting additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) in the week ending 13 November 2020. In total 1,337 additional staff had been recruited in responding authorities: the median number of staff per authority was five and the mean was 18.
- More than half of respondent councils (124) have recorded deaths in service since lockdown. A total of 383 deaths in service were reported by respondents since the start of lockdown (cause not specified).
- Twenty-five per cent of councils reported that they had furloughed at least one member of staff. In total, responding authorities reported there were 4,907 staff furloughed in the week ending 13 November 2020, which was 0.9 per cent of the current workforce.
- The main reason given for furloughing staff was that the service had stopped (84 per cent) or that funding had stopped (45 per cent).
- Some 62 per cent of councils had redeployed staff. In total, in the responding authorities there were 4,606 staff redeployed in the week ending 13 November 2020, which was one per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff redeployed was five and the mean was 24.
- Just under nine in ten councils (87 per cent) reported that they had at least one member of staff unavailable for work. In total, respondents reported there were 27,299 staff unavailable for work in the week ending 13 November 2020, five per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff unavailable for work was 43 and the mean was 137.
- Twenty-one per cent of staff were unavailable through ‘self-isolation (other)’ and 45 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 public health and schools: 12 per cent and 10 per cent of single tier and county councils, respectively, reported these services were operating with severe disruption due to staffing numbers. A further 37 per cent of single tier and county councils reported that schools were operating with moderate disruption. Also badly affected was adult social care, with 32 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 reported they were not operating normally.
- Councils were asked about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing for staff. Eighty-nine per cent reported they had about the right amount of PPE; whilst two per cent had less than they needed. Eighty per cent said all the staff who need testing can access it.
- Councils were asked, since March 2020, whether their council had experienced an increase or a decrease in the number of requests to support staff’s physical or mental health. Seventy-nine per cent said the was an increase, 19 per cent said there has been no change and two per cent said there had been a decrease. Forty-four per cent of councils had said there was an increase for requests from staff in adult social care.
- Councils were asked if they are likely to recruit additional staff specifically to COVID-19 and/or the EU transition or not: 29 per cent said they were not likely recruit additional staff and a further 29 per cent said they did not know. Eighty-eight (43 per cent) councils said yes, they were likely to be recruiting additional staff. Of these, 37 per cent said it was ‘in response to COVID-19’, four per cent said it was ‘in response to both’ and one per cent said it was ‘in response to EU transition’.
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