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Tax and scandals hit satisfaction

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The first signs are emerging that a cocktail of tax rises and local government scandals has led to a fall in residents’ satisfaction with councils.

According to unpublished data from the Place Survey seen by LGC, satisfaction levels for London’s boroughs have fallen by 5%.

More than 50,000 Londoners were asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with their local council’s performance.

The proportion of residents declaring themselves ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ fell from 54% to 49% - despite the capital having some of the lowest council tax bills in the country.

The Place Survey was carried out between September and December 2008, a period which saw councils reveal hundreds of millions of pounds of exposure in failed Icelandic banks as well as the backlash from the Baby P scandal in Haringey.

The full results, which LGC understands will confirm a general fall across the country, were supposed to be published in March but will now not be available until June.

A source familiar with the results said: “It could have something to do with the cumulative impact of council tax rises. Services may have improved according to the Audit Commission but people are paying twice as much.”

According to the data for London, satisfaction levels have suffered a substantial fall since the last time the question was asked in the Best Value Performance Indicator (BVPI) User Survey in 2006-07.

Outer London boroughs performed particularly poorly, with satisfaction dropping by 5% to 46%. At the time of the BVPI survey, high-performing outer London boroughs included Richmond upon Thames LBC at 62% but this year the highest scoring outer London borough achieved a 53% rating.

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC - which has cut council tax levels by 3% for three successive years - and Hackney LBC , named most improved council in this year’s LGC Awards , are among the only boroughs to have bucked the trend and register improved satisfaction levels.

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