Townhall Or Whitehall Survey Results


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These slides summarise the result of an on-line survey seeking views on which services should be accountable to local, regional or national politicians

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Townhall Or Whitehall Survey Results

  1. 1. Town Hall, City Hall or Whitehall? Who should do what?
  2. 2. About the survey These slides summarise the results of a survey which sought the views of local government practitioners on two questions: ● Are there some public services which don't warrant democratic oversight? ● Where democratic oversight is needed, is it best carried out at a local, regional or national level?
  3. 3. Pinning down 'localism' There is a growing political consensus that localism is the way forward. Localism must mean that some services which are currently subject to national democratic accountability should switch to being the responsibility of locally elected representatives. But the survey also sought views on whether there are some functions that could go the other way, or where there is no need for politicians to have oversight.
  4. 4. Facts and figures ● 43 respondents ● Most respondents were local government officers ● But also respondents from think tanks, consultancies and third sector organisations ● Responses received during October 2009 ● Resondents were asked to give their views on 41 services
  5. 5. The services included in the survey ● Building control ● Housing strategy ● Schools ● Car parks ● Job Centre Plus services (e.g. training and ● Strategic planning (e.g. Local support for the unemployed) Development Framework) ● Care and protection of children ● Leisure services ● Tourism ● Care for elderly people ● Libraries and archives ● Trading standards, consumer ● Care for people with a disability protection ● Licensing ● Cemeteries ● Transport planning ● Local economy support and development ● Community safety ● Waste disposal ● Museums and arts ● Council tax benefit ● Youth services ● Policing ● Council tax collection ● Post offices ● Countryside management ● Prisons ● Development control (planning) ● Public and community transport ● Electoral registration ● Recycling ● Emergency planning ● Regional Development Agency functions (e.g. ● Environmental health promoting business, regeneration etc) ● Further education ● registration of births, deaths, marriages ● Housing Provision ● School transport
  6. 6. What should we stop doing? ● Given the spending squeeze are there some functions that the state could stop carrying out altogether? ● Respondents were asked to choose from a long list of public services which ones they thought didn't warrant democratic over-sight.
  7. 7. For every service a majority of respondents felt politicians should carry on having a role But while almost all respondents felt democratic oversight of some functions was necessary, there were others where a significant minority disagreed.
  8. 8. Democratic oversight of some administrative and regulatory functions is seen as less important 60 % of respondents saying these functions should not have democratic oversight at any level 50 40 30 20 10 0 registration housing benefit museums and arts emergency planning electoral registration car parks cemeteries council tax colleciton trading standards
  9. 9. There was very strong support for democratic oversight of social care, community safety, schools, housing and planning % of respondents favouring democratic oversight at some level 100 98 96 94 92 90 88 86 community safety housing strategy schools primary health child protection care for vulnerable people economic development public transport housing provision
  10. 10. The second part of the survey asked respondents to say for those services where they thought democratic oversight was appropriate, whether it should be at: ● Local council level ● Regional authority level ● National level
  11. 11. Respondents don't see a role for national politicians on planning and libraries There were five functions where respondents were unanimous there should be no role for Whitehall: ● Car parks ● Cemeteries ● Development control ● Libraries ● Strategic planning
  12. 12. And for each of these services only one respondent thought democratic oversight should be at a national level ● Building control ● Leisure services ● Licensing ● Regional Development ● School transport
  13. 13. But there are also seven local government services where many respondents favour a transfer to Whitehall 60 % of respondents favouring democratic oversight at a national level 50 40 30 20 10 0 child protection council tax collection registration electoral registration care for vulnerable people trading standards housing benefits
  14. 14. There's no appetite to make prisons nor further education locally accountable but most respondents favour a transfer 90 on post offices, primary health and policing. % of respondents favouring democratic oversight at a national level 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 prisons further education post offices primary health care policing
  15. 15. Respondents favour regional democratic oversight for seven services – including some currently done by councils % respondents favour regional oversight 80 70 60 50 40 I 30 20 10 0 RDA functions tourism public transport emergency planning countryside mgt waste disposal Job Centre Plus
  16. 16. The 'premier league' of locally accountable services – these are the services with the highest rating for council control... % respondents favour local oversight 96 94 92 90 88 I 86 84 82 80 youth services licensing car parks school transport libraries cemeteries leisure services building control
  17. 17. .. but are these the services we most prize? ● Some of these services were amongst those that significant numbers of respondents felt didn't warrant any democratic oversight. ● Other services are discretionary such as leisure and libraries which probably re-inforces a view that there is no need for democratic oversight outside of the local authority
  18. 18. There are eight services where a majority favoured local accountability but a significant number of respondents favoured Whitehall % respondents favour local (red) or national (green) oversight 70 60 50 40 30 I 20 10 0 child protection primary care council tax benefit registration electoral reg care of vulnerable people trading standards post offices
  19. 19. There are also mixed views about recycling and waste disposal ● Only 53% of respondents feel council oversight of recycling is appropriate, with 27% feeling this could be done regionally and 20% nationally. ● 45% of respondents favour regional democratic oversight of waste disposal (compared to 41% for council accountability)
  20. 20. The survey suggests a more complex picture of 'new localism' It may be that new localism isn't simply about devolving responsibilities for policing and primary health to councils. Some administrative functions could go the other way to free-up councils to focus more on local governance. And the survey suggests that in the context of reduced resources we should be thinking fundamentally about what we do. Are there some services which we can stop doing?
  21. 21. Decentralisation and centralisation The survey suggests that even within local government there remains a belief that national political oversight of social care is appropriate. So it may be less about double devolution than simultaneous devolution and centralisation of specific functions. Is this why we don't seem to reach the magical tipping point in the debate about central/local relations?