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Report published into four-day week at South Cambs Council

Photo: South Cambridgeshire District Council HQ

A report into South Cambridgeshire District Council’s four-day week has been published.

Of 24 key performance indicators monitored by the authority, independent analysis by the Universities of Cambridge and Salford found 22 improved or remained the same.

These included areas such as call answering times, timeliness of planning decisions, how long it takes to process benefits claims and speed of emergency repairs to council homes.

An independently run health and wellbeing survey has also been published, and both reports will be reviewed by councillors at meetings in July.

How does the four-day week work?

South Cambridgeshire ran a full length four-day week trial from the beginning of 2023 to the end of March 2024.

Under a four-day week, council officers are expected to carry out 100 per cent of their work, in around 80 per cent of their contracted hours, for 100 per cent of their pay. 

The council’s opening hours have been maintained so it has been open for business just as it was before the trial, with longer opening hours on Wednesdays too.

Professor Brendan Burchell, Cambridge University:

"These results are supportive of moves to reduce the length of the working week but are not a surprise. In the past two years other researchers have studied many private sector employers in the UK and elsewhere that also reported the company’s performance was maintained after a 20 per cent reduction in hours of work; employees and managers can find better ways of doing things to work more efficiently, given the right guidance and motivation."

11 measures were performing better during the trial, compared to beforehand:

  • Percentage of calls to the Council’s Contact Centre that were answered
  • The average number of days to process Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support changes
  • The percentage of emergency repairs to Council homes completed within 24 hours
  • The average number of weeks taken to determine householder planning applications
  • Major planning application decisions made in time
  • The percentage of major planning application decisions that get overturned by the Planning Inspectorate
  • Smaller planning application decisions made in time
  • The percentage of smaller planning application decisions that get overturned by the Planning Inspectorate
  • Staff turnover, which has dropped by almost 40 per cent
  • The percentage of complaints responded to within timescales
  • Invoices paid by the Council within 30 days

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