Headlines: August 10th, 2001

Local councils in the UK are working hard at closing the gap between the satisfaction ratings for services and those for the organization. Satisfaction with services averages some 80%, but only some 50% are satisfied with councils. A survey by the Local Government Association found that over 80 per cent of councils said they are to increase or maintain their communications budget and 85 per cent said they had more than one full time member of staff dedicated to communications. In the last four years public relations departments have increased by over one third.Brian Briscoe, chief executive of the Local Government Association said that the survey findings show that councils understand the importance of communicating with local people and publicising the work they do. Better communications will help towards bridging the gap between what people think of their local services, and what they think of their local authority.

The findings confirm that the communications function will play an increasingly influential role within local councils and that communicating has become a corporate priority and a core competency rather than a soft option. This shift to being more citizen focused and improving communications with the public and local partners supports the Modernising Local Government Agenda.

Police authorities appear to be less enthusiastic about public relations than local councils. Only two of the 43 authorities responded to the survey.