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Councillors back education, housing and waste

Education, social housing and waste collection and recycling services are the services most councillors believe should be priorities for investment, a survey has revealed.

According to research by pollsters ComRes, councillors are evenly split between education and social housing being the most important with both garnering 15 per cent of councillors choosing each one as the top priority for increased investment.

However, waste collection and recycling services received the highest number of votes as one of the top three priorities, chosen by 38 per cent of councillors compared to education (36 per cent) and social housing (34 per cent).

However, social housing had low marks when councillors were asked to rate the performance of specific service areas in their authorities.

On a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent), members gave social housing an average score of 5.52, the third lowest of the services monitored after public transport (5.04) and roads/traffic (4.95). Waste collection and recycling was felt the best performing service with an average score of 7.26.

The results came from ComRes first State of Local Government audit of more than 500 members in English and Welsh authorities.

The survey also found councillors split over the effect the recession will have on their organisations, according to a new survey on the state of local government:
30 per cent believe their authority will emerge from the recession stronger
25 per cent believe the crunch will leave theirs weaker
40 per cent felt it would leave no lasting effect

Conservative members were the most optimistic with 36 per cent believing their authority will emerge stronger, compared to 22 per cent and 21per cent of Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors respectively.

Other findings include:
More than three quarters 76 per cent - of councillors reported their council not having the financial resources needed to deliver the local services residents expect. More than two-thirds 68 per cent - said their councils financial situation had worsened over the past year.

The recession has led to the largest increases in demand for council tax/housing benefit, social housing and council housing respectively; however demand for planning services has decreased the most.

More than seven in ten (71 per cent) did not believe their council was sufficiently empowered to provide the services that local people really want.
These results are further proof that the recession has had a big impact across all levels of government, ComRes chief executive Andrew Hawkins said.

Local government is being squeezed by the unpleasant combination of worsening revenues and increased demand on council resources.

This story first appeared on


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