Headlines: September 18th, 2001

Public sector optimism about improvements in local services has been shown to contrast sharply with the perceptions of the public and business leaders.A survey commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed stark differences of opinion between public sector managers and service users about the past performance and future prospects for public services.

The survey involved interviews with senior managers in the public, private and voluntary sector, and a poll of over 1000 members of the general public. It revealed that whilst over 76 per cent of those who work in the public sector believe services have improved over the last four years, only one in five members of the public agree.

The survey also highlighted a similar perceptions gap about the future prospects for public services. Over 80 per cent of public sector managers said the improvements in the sector would continue over the next four years, compared to just one in three members of the public.

The chair of the LGA, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said the results highlighted two things – that public sector managers were positive about the change being brought about, and that the public sector needed to be better at selling its successes. The key dilemma here is how to turn a series of small but important incremental improvements in service standards into a turned around view of public services.

‘The Agenda for Public Services in the New Parliament: A survey of stakeholders and the public’ was launched at the Institute of Directors at an event jointly organised by the LGA; NHS Confederation; GMB; UNISON; IDeA; National Housing Federation; Association of Police Authorities; Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Secondary Heads Association.

A copy can be obtained from the LGA’s website at www.lga.gov.uk\lga\research