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Three-quarters of public want more of their tax spent locally

Three-quarters of the public think spending on local services is more important than national infrastructure, according to a new survey from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE).

Among the 1,500 respondents, 62% did not think enough of their tax was spent on services in their local area, and 77% said the government should give more money to local councils to spend at the local level.

Furthermore, over half said they trusted the council to make decisions about their local services, compared to just 11% who trusted the government. When asked who they trusted to provide the services, 60% supported their council, whereas just 10% were in favour of private companies and just 7% supported the government.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said: “Whilst the extra infrastructure spending promised by the chancellor is welcome in areas like housing and roads, it is clear that the public want to see more money going to local areas.

“Local spending is proven to be a great way to bolster economic activity in local areas, so clearly there is an awful lot of good to come from leveraging more local investment through trusted council neighbourhood services.”

In last week’s Autumn Statement, chancellor Philip Hammond promised a £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund to boost innovation and infrastructure.

However, he was criticised for failing to address pressing funding shortages in local government and social care.

Local government spending is set to fall by almost £1bn in this financial year, casting doubt on the viability of basic council services.

APSE said the government should introduce a new industrial strategy that focuses on local as well as national infrastructure investment.

The report also found that respondents rated themselves as satisfied with all areas of local government services, but were least likely to be satisfied with roads maintenance, which was the area recommended for the greatest increase in funding. The LGA has warned that councils face a £12bn road repair backlog.

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