England & Wales

What do people really think about their council?


Findings in a new poll into the public mood towards local government conducted by LGinsight and the LGA says 67% of British adults are satisfied with the job their local council is doing.

The report says

This is an increase from January 2011 when problems in clearing ice from pavements and delayed rubbish collections dented the reputation of local government, but even then the majority (62%) was satisfied.

Negative media coverage of local government has increased into 2011, but overall satisfaction is similar to October 2010.

The worrying trend is that perceptions of value for money are down five-points (from 51% to 46%) and whether the council takes account of residents views when making decisions is down seven points (from 47% to 40%).

The reputation of local government is important as it should genuinely reflect that a council is doing a good job and trying to protect it should keep the organisation on its toes. An efficient and pro-active council with motivated staff and a happy customer base is likely to be cheaper to run than an inefficient, lethargic council with unmotivated staff and unhappy customers who don’t care about their reputation.

The original LGA local government Reputation Campaign was launched in 2005 to address common service problems and improve communications – leading to a hoped for improved reputation for local government. It worked but there is a long-way to go. At the time only 16% of GB adults said they spoke highly of their council, now 28% do. The number of people critical of their council is similar (30% vs 27%), with the remainder neutral or saying they don’t know.

Less people are now on the fence and neutral about local government, and the number speaking highly are on par with those critical.

This work has helped ensure that the majority (56%) of the British public trust their council to spend money wisely, rising to 91% among those who strongly agree their council offers good value for money. Among those who say they do not trust their council a quarter (25%) say they can see that they have wasted money locally, and 14% say they do not receive certain services (the question was an open text box and their verbatim comments were classified).

Those councils who have a strong reputation are more likely to have an open and productive discussion over service changes with residents than those with a poor reputation.

The findings of the poll will be discussed in depth at the LGG Conference in Birmingham this week as part of a renewed interest in the reputation of local government.

As with previous LGinsight polls there will be a more detailed report that looks at the findings in more depth than just the headline figures and conclusions