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Poll finds public would shun local volunteering

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Spending cuts would make people less likely to volunteer to help to deliver public services, an opinion poll for the Local Government Association has found in a blow against the Government’s ‘Big Society’ idea.

Polling firm ComRes interviewed 1,002 people of whom 42% said cuts would make them less likely to volunteer to help to deliver local services, while only 38% would be more likely to do so. The remainder were neutral.

It found that the public overwhelmingly thought decisions on local spending cuts should be made by councillors, not central government.This position was taken by 63% of respondents, against 17% who opted for MPs and 7% for civil servants.

The most popular choices of services that should enjoy special protection of their budgets were care of elderly people at 84%, crime and anti-social behaviour, 77%, and child protection and family support, 76%.

Just over half of respondents said they did not trust civil servants to make all possible efficiency savings before imposing cuts on local services, and 59% of respondents felt both quangos and civil service numbers should be reduced before local cuts were imposed.

LGA chair Baroness Eaton, (Con) said: “This opinion poll is a vote of confidence in town halls. People trust their local councillors to make tough decisions about spending in their area more than they trust national politicians.

“We need to take decisions out of the hands of unelected quangos and Whitehall civil servants and give them to local people.”

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