Association for Public Service Excellence
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • apse Blog
Who we are
What we do

The public want more of their taxes spent in local areas

The public want more of their tax spent in local areas

A new survey has found that Chancellor Philip Hammond is out of step with local voters, with over three quarters of the public calling for more money to be spent locally, rather than on super infrastructure schemes. The survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), found that the vast majority of the public want to see more of their taxes spent in the local area.

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced additional borrowing of £23 billion over the next five years to invest in infrastructure, but the public appear to want more of that money leveraged on local projects. People are 8 times more likely to trust local councillors to make decisions on their behalf over and above MPs and Government Ministers. Furthermore, 5 times more people trust councils over and above Government to make the best decisions on their behalf. There is a lack of trust in private providers as well; the public are 6 times more likely to trust council-run services over and above private contractors brought in to run council services.

Local refuse and recycling services are valued the most by the public out of all council services, but people also ranked support for other council services, like school meals, local council leisure facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and playing fields and parks. Another top priority for investment is local roads, and the public want to see more spent on improvements such as reducing the amount of pot holes. However, APSE warns that the public are now starting to see the impact of austerity, with a sizeable chunk of survey respondents reporting a decline in their local services, with the majority of councils just about managing to keep much-valued local services going.

Who do people trust to provide services?

  • 5 times as many trust the local Council over the Government to make decisions about how services are delivered/provided in their local area (54% to 11% respectively) 
  • 6 times as many trust the local council (60%) to provide services in their local area over a private company (10%) with people trusting the council eight times more than the government (7%)
  • 8 times as many trust local councillors over Government Ministers to make decision about their local area (57% local councillors to 7% Government Ministers).

Tax spent in local area

We asked two questions on this:

  • 62% do not think that enough of their tax is spent on services in their local area
  • 77% would like the government give more money to local councils to spend at the local level

Service satisfaction

Waste and Recycling services are the areas that the public had the highest satisfaction score with road maintenance rated the lowest.

  • All nine areas surveyed received a satisfaction score (but only just in road maintenance) which indicates the strong performance of local government considering level of cuts
  • The most popular area for additional spending by central government is road maintenance. Asked to allocate a notional budget across 9 services, the public allocated 18% to road maintenance, 50% more than any other area.

What do people think about local services and council cuts?

  • A significant section of the population, but not a majority perceive a decline in local services in their local areas indicating councils have managed local services well in spite of the high level of cuts meted out to local councils
  • People are most likely to see this (decline) as the fault of both the Government and local Councils combined (44%) whilst only a quarter (27%) see this as being caused by Government cuts alone.
  • The term people most commonly use to describe services in their local area is ‘Neighbourhood Services’

The survey suggests that the public would welcome localised infrastructure investment. APSE is calling for a new industrial strategy to recognise the importance of local – and not just national – infrastructure investment, including local area investment to help rebalance jobs, skills and local economic growth.

Speaking about the survey findings, APSE Chief Executive Paul O'Brien said "Whilst the extra infrastructure spending promised by the Chancellor is welcome in areas like housing and roads, it is clear that the public want to see more money going to local areas.

"Local spending is proven to be a great way to bolster economic activity in local areas, so clearly there is an awful lot of good to come from leveraging more local investment through trusted council neighbourhood services."


Download Research (pdf)




Notes to editors 


The survey, conducted by specialist market research firm Survation, sourced results from the public with a sample size of 1500 respondents in November 2016 from across the UK, and followed robust polling industry standards.

Since 2010, local councils, in some areas, have faced up to 40% of cuts to budgets. The survey was designed to draw out public perceptions of council ‘Neighbourhood Services’ in an age of austerity for local government.

Whilst councils are now able to raise a further 2% in council tax to fund social care, this is not enough in many areas. This has left other council neighbourhood-based services, like parks, refuse and recycling, pothole repairs and street cleaning, to suffer a larger proportion of cuts overall.

Government has committed in the Autumn Statement to an additional £23 billion in infrastructure investment, but no additional money has been made available to local council services generally, although the Autumn Statement has offered some additional prime funding in areas like housing and pot hole repairs.

About APSE and Survation

APSE is the Association for Public Service Excellence, working with over 250 local authorities across the UK. APSE is also home to APSE performance networks, which is the UK’s largest data benchmarking network for frontline neighbourhood services.

Survation is an innovative and creative market research agency, working with big brands and key campaigns, and is a member of the British Polling Council.

For press enquiries please contact Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk or Sophie Bannister on sbannister@apse.org.uk Mobile 07971 843515 (Mo) or 07551 171682 (Sophie).



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.






  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • apse Blog