The third ComRes State of Local Government report, reveals a tough financial climate. Although there are a few ‘green shoots’, overall the picture remains difficult.
It is clear that we are not out of the woods yet. More than three quarters of councillors surveyed expect the financial position of their council to deteriorate over the next twelve months, and that is anticipated to have a negative effect on frontline services, with more than two thirds of councillors believing that the full impact of cuts has yet to be felt by residents. Meanwhile, there is also almost universal consensus that the balance of power between local and central government is not right. The vast majority continue to feel, as in 2011 and 2012, that their council does not have the financial resources it needs to deliver the services that local residents expect.
Despite the widespread sense of being disempowered and underfunded, local authorities continue to make the major decisions necessary to ensure the future of their services. Most local authorities surveyed have already implemented some form of outsourcing, but looking at future plans there is widespread consideration of more innovative delivery models. These plans, driven by the financial pressures on local authorities, are fundamentally changing the way in which frontline local services are being delivered.
This ComRes / BDO State of Local Government: 2014 report therefore captures a snapshot of local government during a period of substantial change. Councillors are wary of the challenges that lie ahead, but they are meeting these challenges through bold choices and increasingly novel solutions. 2014 will be another difficult year, but local authorities are adapting to the new norms of ever declining budgets. Whether the changes we are seeing are enough to achieve the savings required remains to be seen.
This is the first time that the State of Local Government report has been jointly produced by ComRes and BDO. We hope it will continue to be a useful tool for assessing the mood among local councillors.
For more information, or to find out how ComRes market and opinion research can support your work, please contact Jasmine Morgan, Business Development Executive on 020 7871 8655 or firstname.lastname@example.org