Survey shows councillors expect more COVID-related cuts

By Ann McGauran | 01 October 2020

More than two thirds of councillors believe the COVID-19 pandemic will mean further cuts to public sector budgets, according to a UK-wide survey.

It also revealed that 60% of respondents said their experience of COVID-19 had highlighted opportunities to improve, change or transform council services.

Almost 1,000 councillors from across the UK responded to the survey into the impact of coronavirus on public services, with 60% of councillors saying they were carrying out more council work than usual from home.

The type of councils invited to take part in the survey included district and county councils, London boroughs, metropolitan councils, English unitary authorities, unitary authorities in Scotland and Wales, and parish councils.

As well as the direct impact of the pandemic on councillors’ way of working, the survey also asked questions about health and wellbeing, technology, impact on services, and the lessons learned so far.

Nearly 40% said their council work is currently bringing them into close contact with people from outside, with the same proportion saying this had either possibly (28.2%) or definitely (10.6%) involved one or more people who had COVID-19.

Well over a third of those who responded said their council had not provided them with a laptop or a PC to help with homeworking during the crisis, and more than two-thirds had not been given a mobile phone or smartphone.

Almost 90% said they had used video calls for council communications during the last couple of months. More than half (54%) said they preferred face to face meetings to video calls for work. Of those who had been involved in a job application  - as applicant, hiring manager or interviewer - based on a video interview, 29% said the experience had been more stressful due to the unfamiliar nature of the interaction and 23% said it was more stressful due to the technology.

The survey was commissioned by PPMA, Oscar Research and Rainmaker Consulting Group and carried out by market research specialists Public Sector Voice.

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