ComRes has recently published the results of a survey it carried out earlier this year, asking over 500 councillors in England and Wales (but not Scotland) a wide range of questions.
One in particular which caught my eye was about how much time being a councillor took up, and where that time went:
Councillors spend the most hours per month attending council meetings and following this on committee work. On average, councillors spend about 19 hours a month attending council meetings. This is greatest among councillors serving in county councils who spend, on average, 24 hours a month attending council meetings. This falls to just more than 14 hours on average for councillors in London Boroughs.
The average councillor spends just over 18 hours a month on committee work and about 11 hours a month attending local events. On average about 4 hours a month are spent holding surgeries and 7 hours a month hours canvassing.
That canvassing number is surprisingly high, but may well be a reflection in part of the polling haven taken place in April and May. It may also be that some councillors used that category to include other forms of campaigning which flow from being a councillor (and wanting to remain so) but which don’t fit into the other options.
What the answers do not cover is the amount of time spent on work such as preparing for meetings (there’s a lot of paperwork to read!) or doing casework aside from surgeries. The last one in particular probably adds a large amount of time to the total.