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Preventative not palliative: why good neighbourhood services ensure healthy communities

Preventative not palliative: why good neighbourhood services ensure healthy communities

When a resident steps outside their own front door what do they see?  Pavements? Local roads? A flower bed? A recycling bin? A street light?

Each one of these items seem unremarkable on their own but together they make the neighbourhoods we live in liveable. Maintaining our neighbourhoods requires a great deal of hard work on the part of local “neighbourhood services” such as parks, highways and refuse collection (our research in 2015 showed that people prefer the word neighbourhood to the more “council speak” term frontline). 

Since 2010, spending on neighbourhood services has fallen more steeply than any other combined local authority budget area. The most deprived areas have been hit the hardest with some authorities seeing their spending reduced by up to two thirds.  

These services are critical to safeguarding our public realm. Our neighbourhoods are special places to all of us and, as such, their upkeep remains a key doorstep issue. We take enormous pride of place in our surroundings as they are a part of our identity and security. A safe, secure and green environment provides a foundation for helping people to maximise their contribution to society, and creates areas that are economically prosperous. 

Neighbourhoods that are poorly managed, unsightly and unsafe will not attract and retain businesses, jobs and skills in the local area. This creates a vicious cycle whereby economic insecurity leads to social dislocation and a rising social care bill. 

APSE’s new Neighbourhood Service campaign makes the case for investing in the public realm. As well as playing an integral role in boosting local economies, investment in high quality neighbourhood services can save public funds; reducing poor physical and mental health outcomes.

This campaign is not about a competition between neighbourhood services and social care but more a recognition that good quality neighbourhood services help to support our communities; helping in the prevention agenda by ensuring neighbourhoods services are able to meet the needs of everyone in our communities.

Informing our campaign are the results of a public opinion survey APSE has conducted alongside leading poll company Survation. The poll found that:

  • Over 80% of the public want to see more central government(s) money spent in their local area by their local council.
  • Almost five times as many people trust local councils over central government to deliver services in their area.
  • A huge 68% of the public would prefer to see public service contracts going to local firms that bring something back to the local area. 

It would be unwise for any council to disregard the views of their local electorate. That is why APSE is calling on local councillors and councils to adopt a strategy in support of neighbourhood services. 

APSE has identified four different things your council can do in support of neighbourhood services: 

  1. Adopt a neighbourhood services champion within your political group to act as a voice in support of neighbourhood services.
  2. Adopt the model resolution to Full Council to raise awareness of the positive impact of neighbourhood services on local communities and the consequences of these services being lost or cut through pressure on local council finances.
  3. Raise awareness amongst the local community and local businesses about the neighbourhood services you provide and how you are working to preserve them for future generations
  4. Fight for Funding! There is no point in having extra funding for core statutory services like social care if the fabric of our communities is lost at a neighbourhood level. The future funding of our public services has to take into account the funding pressures on neighbourhood services. They are vital to healthy, sustainable communities. 

For more information visit the APSE Neighbourhood Services hub

You can also join the conversation using #apseneighbourhoods on Twitter and LinkedIn

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.






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