The annual salary and benefits survey of trade associations from the Trade Association Forum lays bare the impact of Covid-19 on UK trade associations. It shows:

  • Over a quarter of respondents (27%) saw a reduction in staff numbers in 2020
  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) was used by just over 50% of respondents
  • 33% report that Covid-19 had affected their ability to increase staff pay in 2021, and 29% that they had not awarded or budgeted for salary increases in 2021. 
  • 64% of associations are looking to recruit, a figure that has almost doubled from our last survey in 2019 when just 36% of associations were planning to hire
  • Just 8% have or are planning to return to full time office working. 83% will adopt hybrid working and 8% are allowing staff to work from home permanently. 

Gaynor Pates, Chair of the Trade Association Forum said:

“The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has seen trade associations demonstrate their value to UK businesses. Under increasing financial pressures, they have stepped up their support to members to help them to navigate the myriad of changing rules, regulations and Government support schemes. 

“At the same time, associations, have had to reshape themselves to be able to operate with a very different financial outlook, as in-person events, awards and other revenue-generating activities were cancelled. 

“Whilst Covid -19 has provided the most challenging of times for Trade Associations, it is great to see some confidence return and a more positive outlook for 2022”

Gavin Ellwood, Found of Ellwood Atfield said:

“The demand for communication, policy, and advocacy skills in UK trade associations has increased significantly in the last 6 months.”

“Trade association leaders and their teams have had an extremely challenging time, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic combined has been a real test of their effectiveness and efficiency.”

“Associations are performing an increasingly critical role in the British economy, as proven over the last 18-months, and careers in association leadership are now more desirable and rewarding than ever before.” 


Contact:  Emily Wallace 


The Trade Association Forum (TAF) supported by BEIS, is the leading representative body for trade associations in the UK. TAF supports trade associations to share best practice, drive growth and celebrate success. Membership is open to any trade association based in the UK.

The 2021 Salary and Benefits Survey was supported by Ellwood Atfield, specialists in the recruitment of Chief Executives of trade associations, professional bodies and representative organisations.

The survey provides up-to-date information on salaries, pay awards and benefits offered by associations. The data was collected during September and October 2021.

The findings set out the context to the survey with background information and highlights, including: 

  • The current context and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on staffing, pay and recruitment
  • Analyses of salary levels by staff grade, by association size
  • Analyses of pay increases (most recent and prospective) 
  • A summary of the pensions responses 
  • Details of fringe benefits and holiday provision

For further information on the Trade Association Forum including how to purchase a copy of the report please visit or Twitter @taforum

For further information about Ellwood Atfield please see

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