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Trust in Central Government Crashes as Councils gain public trust

Trust in Central Government Crashes as Councils gain public trust

New polling by Survation on behalf of APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) finds that whilst trust in Government has crashed trust in local councils is on the rise and at its highest level since 2016.



Seven and a half times as many people trust the local council over the government to make decisions about how services are delivered in their local area with eleven times as many trusting Local councillors over government ministers to make decisions.

The survey also found that nine times as many trusted their Local Council to provide services in their local area over the government which is a stark rise from 2018 when five times as many trusted local councils above government and in terms of who provides local services five times as many voters trust the local council over a private company.


Local public spending

61% of the public do not believe enough of their taxes are spent in the local area and when asked whether the government should keep more money to spend at a national levels or give more money to local councils a staggering 81% of the public want to see more money spent locally.

In terms of the services that should be prioritised for extra funding the top of the list, ranked by the public being asked to allocate a nominal budget is social care followed by road maintenance and affordable housing. 


Satisfaction with services

In spite of austerity the public value local services with parks services ranking the highest with a satisfaction score of 7.1 (out of 10) followed closely by school meals (6.7), street lighting (6.6) and refuse collection and leisure services (both at 6.5).

However the public are increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of affordable housing, scoring the lowest ranking at 4.3 coming below general road maintenance at 4.6 – clearly housing affordability and pot holes remains an issue for voters.


Climate Change and local councils

As more and more councils declare a climate emergency APSE wanted to establish if this had any resonance with the public. We asked if they expected councils to take a leading role in responding to climate change and what it might mean to local communities. 74% expect that local communities will have to respond to the effects of climate change in their area and 66% support additional money for councils to respond to climate change locally compared to 22% opposed. There is equal support for councils being best placed to combat community effects of climate change with government at 36% each.

When asked about the top priorities for local climate change action the public want to see homes made more energy efficient and improved waste and recycling. When asked to rank climate change as a new spending priority it was found to be second only to social care.

When asked to think about their local area and what steps or actions on climate change would be required to combat its effects the public ranked actions as follows:

  • 62% Homes more efficient
  • 61% Improved recycling and reducing waste
  • 55% Improved public transport
  • 51% Local energy suppliers of clean / green energy
  • 48% Improved flood defences
  • 47% More electric cars and charging points
  • 41% Improving public buildings and amenities
  • 38% Improving local shops so people can shop locally

Speaking about the survey Paul O’Brien, APSE’s chief executive said “Whilst trust in government is in steep decline at a local level trust in councils has not only remained but gained traction with more of the public trusting councils and councillors to get on with the job of delivering local services.”

He added “These results should be a wake-up call on the issues that matter at a local level. Whilst social care remains a pressing priority for spending climate change, affordable housing and the condition of local roads is not that far behind. This survey makes the case for spending at a local level to be prioritised whoever forms the government after the 12 December.”

Click on the button below to download the Neighbourhood Services Summary Document. 

Summary Document pdf.



Survation were asked by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) to provide a public opinion survey of attitudes to local neighbourhood services in 2019, covering the range of council services that would appear in their local area. Most questions mirrored questions asked in 2016, 2017 and 2019 with additional questions around Climate Change.

Polling was conducted via online panel between 9th – 15th October 2019.

Data was weighted by age, sex, region, household income, education, 2017 GE vote and 2016 EU Referendum vote to be representative of all UK adults aged 18+.

The overall sample size was 1,535, including booster samples in Northern Ireland & Wales to ensure sub-samples of at least 100 persons in those regions.



Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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