Economy and Infrastructure

20.03.19

Local government employment hits ‘new record low’

Local government employment has slumped to a “new record low,” official figures have revealed.

The number of people employed in local government dropped to 2.04 million in December 2018, a drop of 44,000 staff (2.1%) from December 2017, according to data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The employment figures for local government workers have fallen for 34 consecutive quarters, but the number of central government employees has reached a record high at 3.17 million people.

The ONS said the contrasting trends were partly a result of schools converting to academies and therefore transferring local government employees to central government.

The ONS estimated that in December 2018, academy conversions accounted for 11,000 employees over the quarter and 57,000 over the year.

The number of people employed in public corporations showed a small fall of 1,000 (0.6%) staff between September and December 2018 and fell by 14.7% compared to the previous year.

This was due mainly to the transfer of Welsh and Scottish housing associations to the private sector.

Graeme McDonald, managing director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, said: “At a time when rising council tax bills will be dropping on residents’ doormats, some might be under the impression that local government is expanding.

“But these figures show that councils have lost one in three of its workforce over the last decade, while demand for services continues to increase.”

The statistics also showed record levels of employment in the NHS, which now accounts for 31.1% of all people employed in the public sector in the UK.

 

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