Council tax can rise if services more responsive, poll finds

27 Mar 15

A majority of people would support an increase in council tax if the additional funding was used to make local services more responsive and tailored to individual needs, a poll has found.

The YouGov survey for Locality, the national network of community organisations, found that more than half (57%) of the 2,198 people surveyed have experienced problems when using public services.

Of those polled, 71% would support local government and communities playing a greater role in the commissioning and delivering of local public services instead of Whitehall organisations, and 58% said they would support a council tax increase if it meant they received higher quality public services.

Today’s Keep it local report also found that almost two-thirds of people (65%) think services needed to be better tailored to fully meet their needs, with nearly a third (32%) saying public services did not meet all their demands.

Publishing the report, Locality chief executive Tony Armstrong said the group’s ‘Keep it Local’ campaign, which has called for public services to be run by local organisations rather than large outsourcing companies, provided a solution to wide-scale dissatisfaction.

‘Locality’s research shows that the system is letting people down and that they are worried about what the future holds,’ he stated. ‘Our polling results show overwhelming support for our Keep it Local campaign.

‘People are fed up of their taxes being pocketed by massive national companies who give them a tawdry deal. They don’t want one-size-fits-all services provided by large organisations that work across huge swathes of the country.

They want community-focused services designed and delivered at a local level by people who know them and can give them what they need.’

Among the report’s recommendations was a call for the next government to ensure outsourcing deals contain enough flexibility to reflect local circumstances, and include a presumption to use local firms.

The next government should also legislate to ensure than no single supplier is able to have more than a 20% share of a public service market.

Although the report found that Social Value Act, which is intended to make commissioners think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits, had an impact in some places, it needed to be more widely used.

The next government should expand the current Commissioning Academy to train people on the use of social value.

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