Nearly half of councillors are not convinced plans for community budgets are the best way to re-design local public services, LGC-ComRes research suggests.
Only 53% of the 432 members surveyed agreed proposals to pilot community budgets represented “a significant step forward with for the redesign of local public services”.
The survey is the latest indication that faith in the programme is waning following senior council figures giving the programme an unenthusiastic welcome when it was initially unveiled in October because of its perceived narrow focus on families with complex needs.
However, party affiliation appeared to impact on responses. The majority of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors said the proposal was a step forward (72% and 51% respectively), while 75% of Labour councillors disagreed.
The LGC-ComRes research also suggested councillors were split over whether the cuts to local government were worse than expected, with 48% agreeing that it is worse, while 51% disagreed.
Again, splits could be attributed to party affiliation. The overwhelming majority of Labour councillors (85%) agreed that the cuts were worse than anticipated, including 42% who strongly agreed.
By comparison, around a third of Conservative (31%) and two fifths of Liberal Democrat (39%) councillors agreed that the cuts were worse than expected.
Councillors from the north of England were most likely to think the cuts were worst than expected – 68% of councillors in the north-west and 73% of councillors from the north-east.
When asked why a better outocome had not been achieved, 38% of respondents laid the blame at the door of Eric Pickles, stating the communities secretary had not stood up the sector.
Respondents were however mainly satisfied with the sector’s lobbying efforts, with just 2% citing it as a reason why local government had been treated more harshly than their than other parts of the public sector.
In a move that perhaps pits members against some local government officers, the majority of respondents disagreed that the NHS budget should have been cut to lessen local government cuts. Some 64% of councillors disagreed these cuts should have been taken from the NHS, while 33% agreed.