APSE finds public want more spending on local services including parks

A new survey from APSE has found that three-quarters of the public are calling for more money to be spent locally, rather than on super infrastructure schemes, with parks the service that gives second most satisfaction to the public.

The survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), found that the vast majority of the public want to see more of their taxes spent in the local area.

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced additional borrowing of £23 billion over the next five years to invest in infrastructure, but the public appear to want more of that money leveraged on local projects.

People are eight times more likely to trust local councillors to make decisions on their behalf over and above MPs and Government Ministers. Furthermore, five times more people trust councils over and above Government to make the best decisions on their behalf.

There is also a lack of trust in private providers; the public are six times more likely to trust council-run services over and above private contractors brought in to run council services.

Local refuse and recycling services are valued the most by the public out of all council services.

Parks gave second most satisfaction to the public with a rating of 7.1 out of 10. Refuse was 7.2. Road maintenance was bottom of nine areas surveyed on 5.2.

But people also ranked support for other council services, like school meals, local council leisure facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and playing fields and parks.

Another top priority for investment is local roads, and the public want to see more spent on improvements such as reducing the amount of pot holes.

However, APSE warns that the public are now starting to see the impact of austerity, with a sizeable chunk of survey respondents reporting a decline in their local services, with the majority of councils just about managing to keep much-valued local services going.

Results:

Five times as many trust the local Council over the Government to make decisions about how services are delivered/provided in their local area (54% to 11% respectively) 

Six times as many trust the local council (60%) to provide services in their local area over a private company (10%) with people trusting the council eight times more than the government (7%)

Eight times as many trust local councillors over Government Ministers to make decision about their local area (57% local councillors to 7% Government Ministers).

62% do not think that enough of their tax is spent on services in their local area.

77% would like the government give more money to local councils to spend at the local level.

Waste and Recycling services are the areas that the public had the highest satisfaction score with road maintenance rated the lowest.

All nine areas surveyed received a satisfaction score (but only just in road maintenance) which indicates the strong performance of local government considering level of cuts.

The most popular area for additional spending by central government is road maintenance. Asked to allocate a notional budget across nine services, the public allocated 18% to road maintenance, 50% more than any other area.

A significant section of the population, but not a majority perceive a decline in local services in their local areas indicating councils have managed local services well in spite of the high level of cuts meted out to local councils.

People are most likely to see this (decline) as the fault of both the Government and local Councils combined (44%) whilst only a quarter (27%) see this as being caused by Government cuts alone.

The term people most commonly use to describe services in their local area is ‘Neighbourhood Services’.

The survey suggests that the public would welcome localised infrastructure investment, said APSE, which is calling for a new industrial strategy to recognise the importance of local – and not just national – infrastructure investment, including local area investment to help rebalance jobs, skills and local economic growth.

The survey was designed to draw out public perceptions of council ‘Neighbourhood Services’ in an age of austerity for local government.

Government has committed in the Autumn Statement to an additional £23 billion in infrastructure investment, but no additional money has been made available to local council services generally, although the Autumn Statement has offered some additional prime funding in areas like housing and pot hole repairs.


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