A new survey has found that Chancellor Philip Hammond is out of step with local voters, with over three quarters of the public calling for more money to be spent locally, rather than on super infrastructure schemes. The survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), found that the vast majority of the public want to see more of their taxes spent in the local area.
In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced additional borrowing of £23 billion over the next five years to invest in infrastructure, but the public appear to want more of that money leveraged on local projects. People are 8 times more likely to trust local councillors to make decisions on their behalf over and above MPs and Government Ministers. Furthermore, 5 times more people trust councils over and above Government to make the best decisions on their behalf. There is a lack of trust in private providers as well; the public are 6 times more likely to trust council-run services over and above private contractors brought in to run council services.
Local refuse and recycling services are valued the most by the public out of all council services, but people also ranked support for other council services, like school meals, local council leisure facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and playing fields and parks. Another top priority for investment is local roads, and the public want to see more spent on improvements such as reducing the amount of pot holes. However, APSE warns that the public are now starting to see the impact of austerity, with a sizeable chunk of survey respondents reporting a decline in their local services, with the majority of councils just about managing to keep much-valued local services going.
The survey suggests that the public would welcome localised infrastructure investment. APSE is calling for a new industrial strategy to recognise the importance of local – and not just national – infrastructure investment, including local area investment to help rebalance jobs, skills and local economic growth.