Who Knows Where The Time Goes
A variety of different studies have been carried out over the years on how long councillors spend on their duties.
The National Census of Local Authority Councillors is a publication conducted every two years to provide the most comprehensive `snapshots’ of local government representation and analysis of trends over time. This helps with the overview of Councillor roles, especially in terms of their place shaping and what is required in terms of assistance. If you follow the link, there is both an Executive summary of the report and also a full version which gives lots of detail around age profiles, employment status, age, gender and ethnic origin, amongst other things.
The census dated 2010 (which covered the period November 2010 to February 2011) indicated that councillors spend an average of 23hours per week on council / political business.
It was quite difficult to assess the exact time spent on certain activities as many of these overlap, but also fewer councillors were able to accurately provide the information hence the minor discrepancy with the total average calculated (see above). On average the time spent was;
- 10 hours a week attending council meetings
- 8 hours engaging with constituents; and
- 6 hours on external meetings, seminars and training
However, it is recognised that the amount of time can very from several hours per week to several hours per day, depending on the role or position held. For example a Cabinet member is likely to put in more hours than a front line councillor, as seen above.
In addition, the type of Authority can also influence the amount of time spent on duties. The same study found that the average number of hours per week in Shire counties was 26.2, therefore slightly higher than the national average. of 22.7 hours.
The last survey that Devon County Council carried out showed that the commitment, in terms of hours, varied considerably (as shown below). The hours are generally above the average, due possibly to the size and rural nature of the county.
|Average time spent on Council duties (hours per week)|
|All Members||33.47 (highest 75; lowest 9.25)|
|Cabinet Members||49.75 (highest 75; lowest 28)|
|'Urban' backbenchers (Exeter, Barnstaple and Exmouth||30.14 (highest 50; lowest 19.5)|
|'Rural' backbenchers||26.80 (highest 43; lowest 9.25)|
|Average time spent travelling (hours per week)|
|All Members||5.2 (highest 18; lowest 1)|
|Cabinet Members||9.6 (highest 18; lowest 5)|
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