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Town halls ‘will be able to compare satisfaction levels’

By Richard Johnstone | 18 September 2012

Councils will be able to compare residents’ satisfaction levels across local government if they follow guidance published today.

The Local Government Association and London Councils have drawn up a  standard set of questions to be used to measure residents’ views. It is part of the LGA’s Local Government Inform scheme, intended to help town halls gauge their performance against their peers following the termination of the Audit Commission’s inspection work.

More than 120 authorities responded to a consultation to set the questions, the LGA told Public Finance in May. Among the sample questions published today, residents are asked how satisfied they are with the way their council runs things, and to what extent they agree or disagree that a council provides value for money.

Residents could also be asked about community safety and how much they trust the local authority.

Councils that stick to these questions will be able to make ‘fit for purpose’ comparisons of their results with those of others. Local Government Inform will help councils undertake these comparisons.

LGA improvement board chair Peter Fleming said that ‘being able to compare resident satisfaction rates against similar local authorities is good for local people, councillors and council workers’.

He added: ‘It will help boost transparency and strengthen accountability. Getting to the bottom of what residents think about local services is a key part of working out whether or not you’re doing a good job and plays a vital role in improving the services you provide. Placed alongside cost and performance information, it is also a vital tool in helping prioritise work and resources.’

Gillian Norton, chair of the self improvement board at London Councils, added: ‘Councils want as much feedback as possible from local people about what life is like in their boroughs as they work to achieve self-improvement. I believe the work done by the LGA and London Councils, used consistently, will enable councils to compare progress and results.’

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