Headlines: May 20th, 2003

Researchers funded by the Economic and Social Research Council have devised a satisfaction index which will help councils in their spending decisions. Professor Keith Dowding, author of the research said: “We set out to evaluate how citizens evaluate local services and what implications this has for their efficient delivery.”Findings show that Londoners would be more satisfied if more money was allocated to public transport. Manchester residents would be happier if more was spent on planning and economic development and people living in the West Midlands would be better satisfied if more money was spent on street cleaning.

Researchers found that there were different priorities in different areas which often relate to local economic circumstances. Residents of poorer districts value spending on education and highways less than residents in more affluent districts. It also emerged that once local and personal economic and demographic circumstances are provided for, citizens’ preferences are not really different from city to city.

The researchers believe that careful use of survey information on satisfaction with local council services can be used to derive the best way to spend council funds.

Further information can be obtained from Professor Keith Dowding by email k.m.dowding@lse.ac.uk