Trust in Westminster spending wisdom drops with distance from Whitehall

8 Jul 15

The extent to which voters trust Westminster politicians to make spending decisions for their area falls away with increasing distance from London, a poll for CIPFA has found.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, found that people in London express the most trust in Westminster politicians of any region in the UK, with 23% saying they backed them “a great deal” or “a fair amount” to allocate funding within their region.

However, the proportion fell to 19% in the east of England, 15% in the Midlands, 14% in the north of England and in Scotland, 13% in Wales and just 2% in Northern Ireland.

By contrast, trust in local politicians to make good spending decisions was higher in all cases, with more than twice as many people giving a positive opinion in both the north of England (30%) and the east of the country (41%).

Trust in local politicians was also higher in Northern Ireland (10%), Scotland (33%) and the Midlands (34%), as well as in London (32%).

Publishing the figures on the first day of CIPFA’s annual conference, chief executive Rob Whiteman said they showed the need for greater devolution of spending and revenue-raising powers.

“As trust ebbs away from Whitehall, politicians in Westminster urgently need to make sure that they are empowering and equipping local leaders with both the means and the powers to ensure that devolution works for local communities,” he said.

“Westminster cannot just devolve the risk of spending reductions without also devolving the responsibility for raising revenue to meet local demand. CIPFA stands ready to support local public-sector leaders as they make tough decisions on how best to fund services with diminishing resources,” Whiteman added.

At the conference, CIPFA will launch its Aligning Local Public Services project, which is intended to help those in local public services understand the resources they have and use them most effectively.

Whiteman said: “Through our Aligning Local Public Services work we will strive to give them the understanding and information they need to serve their communities in the best way possible.”

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