Sunday, 27 October 2013

Leicestershire County Council publish savings consultation results

Results of the county council’s consultation into how it can save £110 million and reshape services have been published.
 
Over 7,200 county residents, council staff and stakeholders gave their views over the summer. They identified which services they wanted to protect, which they wanted to spend less on and their views on Council Tax levels - 69 per cent favoured a rise.
 
Residents said that the top 10 services the council should save money from are:

1) street lighting
2) grants to communities
3) funding for agencies
4) travel to schools
5) grass cutting
6) early learning
7) children’s centres
8) funding for businesses
9) school support
10) museums
 
The top nine services on this list had more than 50 per cent of respondents saying they wanted to make a reduction, either “a great deal” or “to some extent”. Together, these nine services account for around £32 million of spending.
 
Residents said that the top 10 services the council should protect are:

1) gritting*
2) older people, community services*
3) older people, prevention*
4) roads and paths*
5) mental health
6) older people, residential services*
7) physical disabilities
8) learning disabilities – community services
9) trading standards
10) safety maintenance
 
For five of the services above (*), more than half of respondents said the service should not be reduced at all. These five services account for £64 million of spending.
 
Most of the services that people wanted to protect – especially care services – have some of the council’s largest budgets. The exception is gritting, which is the top priority for residents but has a relatively small budget.
 
Residents had the following views on new ways of working:

• 92 per cent agreed with working more with partners, such as the NHS, district councils and police, to redesign services together
• 33 per cent agreed with letting the private sector run services and 45 per cent disagreed
• 73 per cent agreed with letting residents and community groups run services and 18 per cent disagreed
• 70 per cent wanted to reduce the number of public sector organisations
• 45 per cent supported charging for services and 37 per cent disagreed
 
Residents had the following views on Council Tax levels:

• overall, 69 per cent of residents supported a rise
• five per cent wanted a rise of more than three per cent
• 14 per cent of people wanted a three per cent rise
• 50 per cent wanted a 1.5 per cent rise
• 31 per cent wanted no rise
 
Whitwick County Councillor, Leon Spence said "The results are exceptionally useful in understanding what services local people feel are the most important.
 
Councillor Spence however added a note of caution "We must be careful that we fully understand the data that the consultation provides with us when planning services, for example we need to be mindful that there is an under representation in responses from younger people and conversely an over representation of older residents."
 
The full report is available at www.leics.gov.uk/future
 
Of the 5,000-plus residents who took part, more than 3,000 completed the paper survey in the council’s newsletter, Leicestershire Matters and the remainder completed the form online.
 
The consultation findings will be considered by the council’s scrutiny commission on November 6th and by the cabinet on November 20th.
 
Budget proposals will be published in January and the full council will take a final decision on February 19th.

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