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With public trust in many sectors badly affected during Covid-19, local government has bucked the trend and created increased trust and satisfaction amongst residents.

by David Holdstock

Satisfaction with local councils is at a record high following the most unprecedented and tumultuous three months local government has faced. This of course is testament to the hard work and dedication of local government staff and communicators, which has been outstanding. We should all feel proud of the work councils have been doing to support their communities, reflected in what our residents feel about how we’ve supported them.  

As part of our regular polling to find out what people think about their council and local area, we undertook the latest round earlier this month. This is what the results tell us:

  • 69 per cent of residents said that their council keeps them well informed about the services they provide. It is an increase of almost 10 per cent from this February’s figure of 60 per cent and 16 per cent higher than this time two years ago.

  • 87 per cent are satisfied with their local area as a place to live. This is compared to 81 per cent in February of this year.

  • 75 per cent are satisfied with the way their council run things. This is up from 63 per cent in February and is the first time since September 2015 that satisfaction has been over 70 per cent.

  • 73 per cent of residents trust councils most to make decisions about how services are provided in their area, compared to 18 per cent for central government.

  • Councillors remain by far the most trusted individuals to make decisions about how services are provided in their local area – at 71 per cent. This is compared to 14 per cent for MPs and eight per cent for Government Ministers. 

Given the unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the pressures on councils as a result, these results really are testament to all the hard work that councils have put in to support their communities. 

For us as communicators, it is very positive to see the huge increase in residents saying that their council keeps them well informed. In the space of just four months, satisfaction in this area has risen by almost 10 per cent. I know this has taken a lot of innovative and thoughtful work and is something we should all feel proud of.

The last few months haven’t been easy for any of us, but I hope that this gives you some encouragement that your hard work has had a really positive impact.  Keeping our residents well informed is vital at any time, but never more so than during a national emergency.

The response to COVID-19 has shown just how good local government communicators are at thinking outside of the box, utilising what resources they have and adapting to situations. Council communications teams, often working with partners have delivered some impressive partnership working, supporting their political and managerial leadership and engaging staff and residents.  Brilliant community support efforts, supported by high quality and effective communications, have ensured our most vulnerable residents have been protected.

Of course, we are still in the middle of this crisis and recovery will take some time. I know many of you are already planning for the next phase and we want to ensure we are supporting you in the most effective way. In the coming weeks, we will be launching our new recovery communications resource, offering guidance and practical advice for moving towards next phase. I hope you and your teams will find it useful.

In the meantime, I hope these results will help to show the value of high quality, strategic communications and the difference you and your teams are making.

David Holdstock is Director of Communications at the Local Government Association. You can say hello on Twitter at @DavidHold

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