Headlines: July 3rd, 2003

A survey of public attitudes to central and local government found that 70 percent of the public has little or no confidence in national Government’s ability to spend money wisely on public services in their area. Trust in local Governments’ ability to address public service problems relevant to them was also low with 65 percent declaring little confidence. The research was commissioned by the Local Government Association and hbl media, and carried out by YouGov Ltd.Peter Kellner, Chairman of YouGov says of the results: “This poll contains good news and bad news for local government. The good news is that local councils are more widely trusted than national government to spend public money wisely. The bad news is that there is still much work to be done in order to build trust and confidence. This scepticism needs to be addressed if the public is to reconnect with the political process.”

The survey found that the public were evenly divided on whether local councils should have more freedom to address public services on a regional level or if uniform services across the country were the priority even at the expense of local government freedom. 47 percent wanted more freedom for councils, 42 percent wanted uniformity.

There was support for partnership between local councils and private businesses in the area. When questioned, 61 percent thought that local authorities should be working more closely with local businesses. Only 5 percent want councils to work less closely. This positive tone was consistent across the spectrums of region, political persuasion and social class. The findings show that clear majorities among supporters of all three main parties back closer council-business links.