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Confidence survey - it's only just begun

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LGC’s quarterly survey of senior managers, directors and chief executives found that 65% of respondents expected next year’s budget process to be more difficult than this year’s.

This is despite the front-loading of this year’s cuts, which made the recent budget settlement so biting.

Only 11% of respondents believed that the 2012-13 budgets would be less difficult than those of 2011-12, with 24% expecting the pain to be around about the same.

The results (collated in pdf file, right) reveal a growing view in the sector, which emerged at this year’s Local Government Association conference, that savings in the second year of the settlement will be more difficult to find as they will require much greater inventiveness and transformation in service delivery.

In May we reported growing confidence that corporate aims would be delivered. That trend is maintained (see table, top. The orange columns concern corporate aims, the blue concern confidence at protecting services from cuts.).

The survey also revealed mixed responses to the government’s reform agenda. On the whole, respondents were optimistic about the New Homes Bonus, localisation of business rates, changes to the Housing Revenue Account, and innovative funding models such as invest-to-save and payment-by-results.

But there was concern about other policies, such as pensions reform, police commissioners, health and social care reforms, and moves to open up public services to third parties.

Meanwhile, confidence in communities secretary Eric Pickles and his ministerial team remains rock bottom, with recent promises from Mr Pickles to “put more love about” seemingly making little impact on local-central government relations.

Confidence on economic recovery has also taken a hit. Net confidence that a double dip recession will be avoided has fallen from -55% in May to -72%. Net confidence that the economy will be stronger in a year’s time has also fallen from -39% three months ago to -67%.

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Methodology:

The survey took place between 13-21 July, with answers from 338 chief executives, directors and senior managers. This is the fifth time the quarterly barometer has been run starting shortly before the general election. Respondents were asked to rate their answers on a five-point scale from “very unconfident” to “very confident”. Net confidence scores, used where stated, were calculated by deducting negative scores from the positive scores. More on LGCplus/Documents

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