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Councils reveal 20% rise in stress-related absence, FOI shows

Welsh councils have revealed a 20% increase in the number of employees taking stress-related leave.

A freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by Welsh Conservatives shows that in 2016/17, a combined 6,836 local authority staff members took sick leave because of stress, compared to 5,706 in 2014/15.

The year-on-year rise is 14%, with 2015/16 having recorded 6,012 members of staff having taken a stress-related absence.

Wrexham Council – currently run by a Labour-Independent coalition – saw the biggest increase in stress-related absence with 645 staff taking leave in 2016/17 compared to just 76 two years previously; a rise of 748%.

Only Powys and Vale of Glamorgan councils saw a decline in the number of staff absences over the two-year period.

Of Wales’ 22 local authorities, only Newport Council failed to respond to Welsh Conservatives’ FOI request.

The same FOI request was submitted to Welsh Government, which saw 342 of its staff struck down with stress in 2016/17, marking a modest rise of 19 on 2014/15.

Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Secretary, said:

“Welsh councils are facing huge financial pressures, which is evidently having a knock-on effect on the wellbeing of staff members who are increasingly expected to do more with fewer resources.

“This is made worse still by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of councils, many of which have under Welsh Government plans faced the prospect of disappearing altogether.

“Welsh Government must in urgency review its local government funding formula to ensure that councils are afforded the resources needed to deliver good public services and happier work environments.”