COVID-19 workforce survey research report, week ending 21 August 2020

This 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 local government sector is responding to COVID-19.


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 26 August 2020. The overall response rate was 55 per cent and covered over a third of the total workforce.

Key findings 

  • Some 26 per cent of councils reported recruiting additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) in the week ending 21 August 2020. In total 1,225 additional staff had been recruited in responding authorities: the median number of staff per authority was three and the mean was 29.
  • More than a third of councils (101) recorded deaths in service since lockdown. A total of 215 deaths in service were reported by respondents since the start of lockdown (cause not specified).
  • Twenty-four per cent of councils reported that they had fully furloughed at least one member of staff. In total, responding authorities reported there were 4,854 staff furloughed full-time in the week ending 21 August 2020, which was one per cent of the current workforce.
  • In addition, 21 per cent of councils reported that they had partially furloughed at least one member of staff. In total, respondents reported there were 2,666 staff furloughed part-time in the week ending 21 August 2020, which was 0.5 per cent of the current workforce.
  • The main reason given for furloughing staff was that the service had stopped (85 per cent) or that funding had stopped (49 per cent).
  • Some 63 per cent of councils had redeployed staff. In total, in the responding authorities there were 6,090 staff redeployed in the week ending 21 August 2020, which was one per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff redeployed was 4 and the mean was 34.
  • Just over eight out of ten councils (83 per cent) reported that they had at least one member of staff unavailable for work. In total, respondents reported there were 22,028 staff unavailable for work in the week ending 21 August 2 2020, four per cent of the current workforce. The median number of staff unavailable for work was 27 and the mean was 116.
  • Fifteen per cent of staff were unavailable through ‘self-isolation (other)’ and 52 per cent were unavailable due to ‘non-COVID sickness’.
COVID-19 Workforce survey research report, 8 September 2020 COVER
Published by:
LGA Research
Reference code: